Officials and Entrepreneurs Gather to Promote US-China Trade Cooperation

Speaker pro Tempore Fiona Ma met with China's Vice Minister of Commerce Wang Chao for the third time which set the positive tone for the meeting where they discussed the importance of San Francisco/California as the gateway for the West.

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In another boost to improving bilateral economic and governmental ties between the United States and China, Commerce Vice Minister Wang Chao of the People’s Republic of China kicked off a 50-member trade mission with a visit to California, starting off with meetings in the State Capitol followed by a business conference in San Francisco.

Wang was joined in Sacramento by Consul General Gao Zhansheng of San Francisco and Darlene Chiu-Bryant, Director of ChinaSF in visiting with Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom and then Assembly Speaker pro Tempore Fiona Ma (AD-12 San Francisco/San Mateo Counties) in Sacramento.  This was the third meeting between the Vice Minister and Ma which set the positive tone for the meeting where they discussed the importance of San Francisco/California as the gateway for the West and the benefits of mutual trade and economic ties between China and the United States.

Wang specifically introduced Mr. Guo Gang, Deputy General of Commerce for Inner Mongolia (one of California’s Sister States) and Mr. Li Mensheng of the Shandong Province as key leaders of his Delegation. Ma talked about the positive benefits of the soon to be largest Chinese investment by the China Development Bank in the United States of $1.7 billion dollars into San Francisco’s much delayed Lennar/Bayview Hunters Point project and the future development on the city’s pinnacle asset, Treasure Island.  Ma also introduced the CEO of Prometheus Partners, Alexis Wong, who talked about bringing the project to fruition.

The innovative project will consist of 20,000 new homes, a sports arena, millions of square feet of office and retail space.  San Francisco has committed hundreds of millions of dollars in bond funding which is expected to total $10.5 billion over the next few decades.   The project has strong backing from San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee and ChinaSF, with China’s consulate in San Francisco also playing an important role.

At a lunch sponsored by the California Chamber of Commerce after, Ma encouraged Li, Director of the Shandong Business Office, to open up a trade office in San Francisco to expand economic ties and cooperation between the Shandong Province and California. Shandong ranks first among the top provinces in the production of a variety of products, including cotton and wheat as well as precious metals such as gold and diamonds. They also have rich oil deposits and about 140 wineries including Qingdao, home of the famous Tsingtao Beer.

The next day, Bay Area entrepreneurs and City and State officials gathered at San Francisco’s City Hall to welcome Wang’s delegation. The seminar-style event was designed to facilitate deals between the US and China  in both the private and public sectors. It was hosted by ChinaSF Executive Director Chiu-Bryant and featured remarks from Mayor Lee, Newsom, and Senior Jobs Advisor to Governor Brown, Mark Rossi. Mayor Lee hoped the event would encourage “A great conversation…to work together to solve the world’s problems.”

Both Lee and Newsom highlighted San Francisco and the Bay Area’s innovations in the areas of environmentalism (Zero Waste in 2020), biotech (Mission Bay), education (5 globally ranked universities), and information technology (Silicon Valley). Newsom described San Francisco as a city of “dreamers, doers, and entrepreneurs.”

Vice Minister Wang Chao in praise of California’s exceptional cultural and geographic locations, calling the state a “Gateway to the US.” He mentioned Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping’s trip to Los Angeles in February, noting that this more recent seminar would serve as a continuation of the Vice President’s trade talks. “There are huge cooperative opportunities, especially with infrastructure,” remarked Wang, citing collaborations in city development, ports, and high speed rail. The Vice Minister emphasized continuing economic growth through stronger financial and trade relationships between China and the US. As China inters into its Twelfth 5-Year Guideline (formerly known as “5-Year Plans”), the country plans $10 trillion in imports, including US agricultural products, cars, aircraft, and services. Vice Minister Wang assured that China would further open its markets and urged the US to loosen its export controls.

The statements were followed by a signing ceremony, in which Chinese and American businesses signed trade deals in a number of industries.

Following the signing ceremony, US and Chinese representatives gave presentations encouraging investment in their respective local economies. California Senior Jobs Advisor Mark Rossi affirmed plans to re-establish the state’s global presence, opening California trade offices in Shanghai and Beijing.

The seminar concluded with a lunch and networking session allowing Californian and Chinese business leaders to connect in a number of industries—distribution, finance, biotech, retail, information technology, among others.

The seminar was organized by the State of California, the Municipal Government of San Francisco, CIPA (China Investment Promotion Agency), and San Francisco’s ChinaSF initiative. Wang’s trip also includes visits to Los Angeles, Chicago, New York and Washington DC.