Former Gov. Edmund G. (Jerry) Brown Jr. once attempted to set up operations in China for a Costa Mesa-based drug manufacturer, members of a Bay Area trade delegation have told a newspaper here.
The San Francisco Examiner, in a report prepared for publication today, quoted former San Francisco Mayor Art Agnos and other members of a 1989 trade delegation as saying that Brown was in Hong Kong at the time on behalf of Milan Panic, the founder of ICN Pharmaceuticals of Costa Mesa.
Brown has campaigned against companies that go overseas looking for cheap labor.
The Examiner on Sunday reported that Brown went to Hong Kong to set up a low-wage manufacturing plant in China for ICN. Brown, who serves as a paid member of the board of directors of an ICN subsidiary called ICN Biomedicals, denied the story, saying he actually was there to "secure equity capital for investment in California" for a Sacramento firm.
Quoted in today's Examiner, Agnos recalls that Brown "said he was there on business. I remember he said he was doing something for Milan Panic. It stuck out in my head a little bit."
San Francisco parking commissioner Arnold Chin, also a member of the Bay Area trade delegation, told the Examiner he remembered Brown saying he was "working for a pharmaceutical company."
"I recall him talking about looking for property in China," Chin told the newspaper.
The Examiner said one of its reporters was in Hong Kong at the time, covering the trade mission. The paper said Brown told the reporter that he was seeking a location for an ICN plant in Shenzen, a special economic zone in China. "We want to get into China," Brown told the paper in 1989.
On Sunday, Brown said on the CBS program "Face the Nation" that "we want to protect America and our wage levels, but if we can't sell to China and Mexico and everywhere else, this whole economy collapses."