Trans-Pa­cific-City, State bonds cel­e­brated

China Daily (Canada) - - ACROSSAMERICA - By CHEN WEIHUA in Wash­ing­ton

Vin­cent Gray, the mayor of Wash­ing­ton DC, seemed more ex­cited than any­one de­liv­er­ing a lun­cheon key­note speech at the US-China Sis­ter Cities Con­fer­ence on Thurs­day. And that was not en­tirely be­cause the 30-yearold sis­ter city tie be­tween his city and Chi­nese cap­i­tal Bei­jing won an award for eco­nomic and trade ex­change at the meet­ing.

Gray said that Air China agreed to start a di­rect non-stop air route from Bei­jing to Wash­ing­ton’s Dulles In­ter­na­tional Air­port be­gin­ning on June 10.

The an­nounce­ment drew warm ap­plause from the sev­eral hun­dred in the au­di­ence. “That will have a phenom­e­nal im­pact and we are very ex­cited about this op­por­tu­nity,” he said.

Not­ing the neg­a­tive im­pact on the lo­cal econ­omy by federal se­ques­tra­tion, Gray said Wash­ing­ton DC is look­ing for ways to grow its econ­omy in or­der to bet­ter con­trol it­self. And he be­lieves the di­rect flight will help boost tourism.

Al­ready the num­ber of people trav­el­ling be­tween Bei­jing and Wash­ing­ton DC had risen from 85,500 in 2010 to 116,000 by the third quar­ter of 2013. “But imag­ine what is go­ing to be now, with the di­rect flight from Bei­jing into Dulles In­ter­na­tional. I don’t know, dou­ble, triple, who knows what the num­ber will be?” he said.

Gray was not the only one ex­cited by the news. Vir­ginia Sec­re­tary of Com­merce and Trade Mau­rice Jones said Vir­ginia wel­comed more than 22,000 vis­i­tors from China last year, a 69 per­cent in­crease over pre­vi­ous year. “China is also Vir­ginia’s top emerg­ing tourism mar­ket and this an­nounce­ment to­day is only go­ing to make that grow ex­po­nen­tially,” Jones said.

He touted the long-stand­ing and mu­tu­ally ben­e­fi­cial re­la­tion­ship be­tween Vir­ginia and China. China is the largest cus­tomer of Vir­ginia’s agri­cul­ture and forestry prod­ucts and one of the top 15 global in­vestors in Vir­ginia.

Gray also gave a long list of achieve­ments born out of the sis­ter-city tie with Bei­jing, such as ed­u­ca­tion and busi­ness ex­changes. Wash­ing­ton DC has al­ready opened an of­fice in Shang­hai and is open­ing one in Bei­jing.

“It’s a fruit­ful and en­cour­ag­ing re­la­tion­ship,” he said.

Mary Kane, pres­i­dent and CEO of Sis­ter Cities In­ter­na­tional, read a con­grat­u­la­tory let­ter from Pres­i­dent Barack Obama to the con­fer­ence. Sis­ter Cities In­ter­na­tional or­ga­nized the con­fer­ence in col­lab­o­ra­tion with the Chi­nese People’s As­so­ci­a­tion for Friend­ship with For­eign Coun­tries.

“The United States and China are deeply in­ter­ested in each other’s suc­cess. And the United States firmly be­lieves the emer­gence of a sta­ble, peace­ful and pros­per­ous China is not just good for the Chi­nese people, but also for Amer­ica and the world,” Kane quoted Obama as say­ing.

Prais­ing the good work of or­ga­ni­za­tions like the Sis­ter Cities In­ter­na­tional in pro­mot­ing people-to-people ex­changes, Obama said their ef­forts re­mind people of the power of cit­i­zen diplo­macy in solv­ing prob­lems and cre­at­ing a bright fu­ture.

Xie Yuan, vice-chair­man of the Chi­nese People’s As­so­ci­a­tion for Friend­ship with For­eign Coun­tries, de­scribed the first sis­ter cities con­fer­ence spon­sored by both sides as a mile­stone. The meet­ing was listed in the out­come doc­u­ment of the 5th Strate­gic and Eco­nomic Di­a­logue held in Wash­ing­ton DC last July.

“The sis­ter city re­la­tion­ship will play a unique role in build­ing the new type of ma­jor coun­try re­la­tion­ship,” Xie said, re­fer­ring to a con­sen­sus reached by Chi­nese Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping and Pres­i­dent Obama last June in Sun­ny­lands, Cal­i­for­nia.

The some 300 par­tic­i­pants in the whole day meet­ing at the Ron­ald Rea­gan Build­ing en­gaged in deep dis­cus­sions on Thurs­day in a wide range of sem­i­nars, such as com­mu­nity en­gage­ment pro­grams, en­ergy and sus­tain­able de­vel­op­ment pro­grams, pro­to­cols of do­ing busi­ness in China and the US and how to at­tract busi­ness to your city.

Some 34 pairs of sis­ter cities and sis­ter states and prov­inces and four in­di­vid­u­als were hon­ored dur­ing an award gala Thurs­day evening.

Clare Pet­rich, pres­i­dent of the Port of Ta­coma Com­mis­sion, de­scribed Ta­coma’s re­la­tion­ship with Fuzhou, Fu­jian prov­ince, as won­der­ful. The two sis­ter cities won an eco­nomic and trade ex­change award last night.

“I love Fuzhou. We had a won­der­ful time there. When I was there, I brought a dragon boat team, to com­pete in the dragon boat race,” said Pet­rich, re­call­ing her trip about seven years ago.

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