Maryland governor signs investment, education deals in China
Maryland Governor Larry Hogan’s first official visit to China concluded with an array of education and business agreements.
Joined by a delegation of Maryland business executives and higher education leaders, Hogan witnessed a ceremony consisting of eight signings with Chinese companies and educational institutions on June 2 in Beijing.
Among the partnerships, two iconic Maryland companies — Marriott International and global design firm RTKL — inked agreements with Chinese partners and continued to expand their global reach in the market. Two emerging Chinese companies — Shanghai Tongji Biological Product Co and Ankang Shimao Biotechnology Co — announced plans to set up United States operations in Maryland’s International Incubator at the University of Maryland, College Park.
“Today’s ceremony is just a symbol. But our trip here showed there’s no relationship that could be possibly more important to us than our relationship with China,” Hogan said.
He added: “We think the potential collaborations and opportunities for Chinese investors and companies in Maryland and for Maryland companies to do business in China are great. Innovation and entrepreneurship are what we are really focused on. We know we share some of the goal of encouraging more innovation and more entrepreneurship with China.”
Hogan continued that he met on June 1 with Vice-Premier Liu Yandong and talked about how to encourage innovation and entrepreneurship and cultivate talents.
Maryland ranks in the top five among the 50 US states in the US Chamber of Commerce’s 2014 State New Economy Index, including No 1 in the categories of innovation and entrepreneurship.
Hogan arrived in Beijing on June 1, after his visit to South Korea, the first stop of his three-nation tour in Asia in an effort to deliver the message that “Maryland is open for business” to one of the fastest-growing economic regions in the world.
Maryland has long maintained a strong presence in China, becoming the first US state in 1996 to open a trade and investment office in the nation — the Maryland China Center.
Hogan said China is already Maryland’s second-largest trading partner and, “We’d like to make it No 1 in the near future”.
China was Maryland’s third-largest export market in 2014, with $714 million in Maryland goods shipped to the country, according to the Business and Economic Development Department.
But the trade relationship with China is lopsided, with the export of $3.1 billion to the state last year. Like many states, Maryland is trying to court foreign businesses and investment to help grow its economy.
Life science and biotechnology are the major draws for Chinese investments, given that Maryland is home to one of the five largest biotechnology industry clusters in the world and is the site of the US Food and Drug Administration and National Institutes of Health, as well as The Johns Hopkins Hospital, a world leader.
“We are pleased to welcome two new Chinese companies to the Maryland International Incubator and help them connect with new opportunities in Maryland,” said Hogan.
Kai Duh, director of the Maryland International Incubator, said, “These two Chinese companies plan to hire students and engage in joint research projects with faculty members as an important component of their foreign direct investment. They bring with them internship and research opportunities for the university community in addition to the economic impacts on our great Maryland economy.”
Wallace D. Loh, president of the University of Maryland, College Park, where the incubator is located, said the reason the Chinese companies have to come is that they also hope to open an office in the US some day and the starting point is to establish a small research operation as the first step.
“It is not just research with some students and professionals, but also to establish business connections to the US market,” said Zhao Kuishan, president of Ankang Shimao Biotechnology Co, which is specialized in biotech anti-riot material. The company invested $1.5 million in the project in Maryland, which is also its first foray into the US.
Wang Yunhua, president of Shanghai Tongji Biological Product Co, said his company invested $3 million in the first phase of project and planned to add more as it entered the US market via the gateway of Maryland.
When asked about the security of the state and the recent unrest in Baltimore, Wang said he believed the state is very safe for investment as it is geographically very close to Washington, DC.
In addition to the business partnerships, the University of Maryland, Baltimore, signed an agreement with the Affiliated Hospitals of Qingdao University to explore scholarly and leadership exchange programs and also work together on a healthcare leadership-training program. The University of Maryland, College Park, signed academic partnerships with Beijing Municipal Education Commission and the Beijing University of Technology.
Hogan left China for Japan on June 3, the last stop of his 12-day trade mission to Asia.