US Con­gress­men head to China to study new re­forms

China Daily (Canada) - - FRONT PAGE - By CHEN WEIHUA in Wash­ing­ton chen­wei­hua@chi­nadai­lyusa. com

US Con­gress­man Rick Larsen is leav­ing for his ninth trip to China on Satur­day, but this time on crutches.

The Demo­crat House mem­ber from Wash­ing­ton State is still heal­ing from a bro­ken an­kle.

Larsen, co-chair of the House US-China Work­ing Group, will be joined on the week-long trip by three other House mem­bers: Charles Bous­tany, a Louisiana Repub­li­can who co-chairs the work­ing group; Kenny Marchant, a Repub­li­can from Texas; and Mike Quigley, a Demo­crat from Illi­nois.

The group will also in­clude two Con­gres­sional staff mem­bers from Larsen’s and Bous­tany’s of­fices as well as Ford­ham Law School pro­fes­sor Carl Minzner, a specialist on China’s le­gal sys­tem.

The Na­tional Com­mit­tee on US-China Re­la­tions is host­ing the March 16-23 trip, tak­ing the group to Bei­jing, Xi’an and Guangzhou. Com­mit­tee Pres­i­dent Steve Or­lins is al­ready in China.

Larsen said the trip’s goal is to un­der­stand the role of the eco­nomic re­forms that have been an­nounced since the Third Plenum.

“From the United States’ per­spec­tive, un­der­stand­ing the eco­nomic re­form pro­posed and how it re­lates to the USChina eco­nomic re­la­tion­ship is very im­por­tant and will have an im­pact on US pol­icy and US eco­nomic pol­icy to­ward China,” Larsen told China Daily on Thurs­day.

In Bei­jing, the group will meet top Chi­nese of­fi­cials to dis­cuss and learn about China’s eco­nomic re­forms. In Xi’an they will visit the aero­space man­u­fac­tur­ing in­dus­try.

“I am mainly driv­ing that part of the agenda be­cause I want to un­der­stand bet­ter the role and fu­ture of Chi­nese avi­a­tion in­dus­try,” said Larsen, smil­ing and look­ing back at a Boe­ing plane model in one cor­ner of his of­fice in the House Ray­burn Build­ing. “I think the Chi­nese govern­ment ex­pects avi­a­tion in­dus­try to be a ma­jor part of its grow­ing econ­omy in the fu­ture.”

China is one of the largest cus­tomers for Boe­ing, which has nearly half of its 170,000 em­ploy­ees based in the Wash­ing­ton state.

To Larsen, the trip to Guangzhou in South China, a trail­blazer of China’s eco­nomic re­form in the past decades, will help the group un­der­stand how eco­nomic re­form will work in a place that is far from Bei­jing.

Larsen said he al­ready has re­ceived pos­i­tive mes­sages about China’s eco­nomic re­forms since the Third Plenum, cit­ing Chi­nese Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping, who is per­son­ally head­ing the com­pre­hen­sive eco­nomic re­form lead­er­ship of­fice.

“I think he is try­ing to be in con­trol of pro­mot­ing and press­ing for eco­nomic re­form, which the new Chi­nese lead­er­ship sees as im­por­tant for China’s fu­ture eco­nomic growth,” said the 48-year-old.

But Larsen pointed out that the chal­lenge for China has been im­ple­men­ta­tion.

“It’s one thing to read about it. It’s an­other thing to see it,” said Larsen, who is in his sev­enth term in Congress since 2000.

Be­sides meet­ing Chi­nese of­fi­cials and law­mak­ers, the US Con­gres­sional del­e­ga­tion will also meet Chi­nese busi­ness lead­ers to learn how the eco­nomic re­forms will af­fect them and how they are go­ing to use the re­forms to help job cre­ation in China.

The group will also meet with US com­pa­nies do­ing businesses in China and also meet people in the fi­nan­cial in­dus­try. Fi­nan­cial re­form has been a pri­or­ity in China’s next eco­nomic re­form pro­gram.

Larsen said he and Bous­tany will brief Sen­a­tors Mark Kirk, a Repub­li­can from Illi­nois, and Mazie Hirono, a Demo­crat from Hawaii, af­ter re­turn­ing from China. The two Sen­a­tors have been plan­ning to form a Se­nate China work­ing group this fall.

Larsen and Kirk, a House mem­ber who be­came a Se­na­tor in 2010, set up the House US-China Work­ing Group in 2005 in wake of the failed ac­qui­si­tion of Cal­i­for­ni­abased Uno­cal by China Na­tional Off­shore Oil Com­pany (CNOOC) in a bid to ed­u­cate mem­bers of Congress about China-re­lated is­sues.

The trip by the group in the com­ing week was orig­i­nally sched­uled for last Septem­ber but was can­celed due to the federal govern­ment’s par­tial shut­down.

Larsen be­lieves that with the Third Plenum con­cluded and now the Na­tional People’s Congress ses­sions ended, the tim­ing is prob­a­bly bet­ter. “All the steps that have been tak­ing place now are for Chi­nese lead­er­ship to start re­form,” said Larsen.

All of Larsen’s trips to China have all been about busi­ness. He has not yet taken a leisure trip there with his wife, but he said he is look­ing for­ward to such an op­por­tu­nity.

“That shows how ded­i­cated I’m on this (US-China) re­la­tion­ship. I’m go­ing to China on crutches,” said Larsen, laugh­ing.

Rick Larsen,

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