World / Reporter's Journal

'Tis the season, for people-to-people exchanges

By Chang Jun (China Daily USA) Updated: 2015-11-24 05:43

A series of China-US exchanges spanning a wide range of areas — from diplomacy and economics to trade and the military — took place on the West Coast last week on a tight schedule, which somehow seemed to create a festive atmosphere for the holiday season.

In San Francisco, Xia Xiang, economic and commercial counselor at the Chinese Consulate General in San Francisco — who will soon take a new post at the Chinese Embassy in Canada) — shed tears at a farewell party in his honor on Friday, sponsored by the Chinese Enterprise Association (CEA) in North California.

Xia choked up trying several times to start his speech about his four-year stint in the Bay Area. “I’ve seen a tremendous increase in the breadth and depth of Chinese enterprises operating in Northern California in recent years as they’ve started to help shape the local economy and business landscape,” Xia said.

Currently, about 218 Chinese enterprises have footprints on the West Coast engaging in such industries as high-tech, clean energy, real estate, finance, trade, tourism and education. “When I first came here in 2011 there were only 70,” Xia recalled. “American counterparts barely knew the names of our companies and products.”

Over the years, Chinese enterprises have learned to collaborate and communicate more with American companies and mainstream society. The world's two largest economies remain active in a wide-spectrum of exchange and communication.

In 2013, for the first time China's investment in the US — $14 billion — outpaced US investment into China. America received $12 billion in investment from China in 2014, a 14 percent drop but still enough to make the US the No 1 destination country for Chinese outward investment.

'Tis the season, for people-to-people exchanges

US-China bilateral trade volume hit a record high of $590 billion in 2014 with California being the recipient of more than 25 percent of China's direct investment in the US.

Xia said he has also noticed that more and more Chinese companies are coming to the US to seek growth opportunities, their mission to grow their name internationally and seek innovation capabilities to upgrade their offerings and move up the value chain.

“The increasingly important role of Chinese companies have been playing in China-US business exchanges, to me, is something no one can ignore nor underestimate,” said Chen Guanmin, president of the CEA.

In Oregon, the ninth-largest state in the US, Ren Faqiang, deputy consul-general at the Chinese Consulate General in San Francisco, on Nov 18 addressed state legislators on cementing the current Sister State relationship and enhancing future exchanges across broader settings.

The trade and business relationship between Oregon and China has witnessed a growth spurt in recent years — China remains Oregon’s biggest trade partner and export market. In 2014, Oregon exported $4.3 billion in commodities to China and about 62,000 Chinese tourists visited Oregon and spent $4.8 million on lodging, dining and purchases.

In February of 2016, Oregon Governor Kate Brown will lead a 50-member delegation on her first trade mission to China. Jobs and economic growth are her two main goals, the governor’s spokesperson said, adding that personal connections with Chinese counterparts will help grow the relationship.

China and Oregon have a long history of friendship and people-to-people exchange, said Ren. Citing the heroic story of Arthur Chin, a Portland native born in 1913 who flew a fighter plane in China during World War II and shot down six Japanese airplanes, Ren said the Chinese people would never forget the international humanitarian spirit demonstrated by Chin and his fellow Americans.

And in Tacoma, Washington, about 70 military personnel from the Chinese People’s Liberation Army joined their US counterparts for humanitarian aid exercises at the US Air Force’s Joint Base Lewis-McChord on Nov 19-23.

It was the first time that ground-level Chinese PLA army officers and soldiers visited an Army base in the continental US for military exercises.

The exchanges are to help the two sides better understand each other so a more timely response in a humanitarian disaster will be guaranteed, said commanders from the US and Chinese militaries during a joint press conference held after the drill.

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