Airline exec sees bright side for China and US
China and the United States can work together on issues such as environmental protection, terrorism, nuclear cooperation and humanitarian aid, but for that to be successful, the US media have to change how they portray China to Americans, said an executive of Air China North America.
“American media have to make sure that they are not exaggerating what they see in China,” said Chi Zhihang, vicepresident and general manager of Air China North America.
Chi’s speech, US China Relations in the New World Order, was hosted by Town Hall Los Angeles, a non-profit organization, at the City Club in downtown Los Angeles on Thursday.
Chi said that personal trust between leaders of the two counties is important. US President Barack Obama, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and a Los Angeles trade delegation will attend the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Beijing from Nov 10-12.
“I would say to accept our differences and to focus on our agreement,” he said.
Kim McCleary , president of Town Hall, said Chi was invited to speak because he has got Air China deeply involved in economic, cultural and academic collaborations with the US.
Lillibeth Bishop, director of marketing and public relations at Air China, told China Daily that Chi, who has a master’s and a doctoral degree from the Masschusetts Institute of Technology’s Sloan School of Management, “is a good example of how to succeed in both cultures”.
Chi manages more than 175 US-based Air China employees and oversees marketing and operations for flights between North America and China. Chi is a recipient of the China Business Leadership Award from the US China Policy Foundation. The honor was for his contributions to a greater understanding between American and Chinese policymakers and government officials.
Tourism has quadrupled over the past four years, from 158,000 Chinese tourists in 2009 to 570,000 in 2013, making China the top overseas market for Los Angeles tourism, according to a June Los Angeles County Economic Development Corporation report.
“Air China seized the business opportunity,” Chi said. “When I first came to Los Angeles, there were only three Beijing-Los Angeles flights in a week. And now there are 14 flights in a week. ”
Air China launched a direct flight from Houston to Beijing in July 2013, expanding it to four times a week in March 2014. Also that month, Air China added a second New York-Beijing flight.
Chi emphasized that China has no intention to compete with the US.
Chi said that three days after China announced the establishment of diplomatic relations with the US on Dec 15 in 1978, Deng Xiaoping, then chairman of the CPPCC (Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference) National Committee, announced reforms in China. “It is not a coincidence,” Chi said.
“I do see frustrations among people on both sides when they do business together,” he said.
Chi Zhihang, vice-president and general manager of Air China North America, delivers a speech on Thursday at Town Hall Los Angeles in downtown Los Angeles.