WASHINGTON – The just concluded first China-US Governors Forum was described as a historical event between the world’s two largest economies, a senior US State Department official said Tuesday.
The three-day event was held in Salt Lake City in conjunction with the summer meeting of the US National Governors Association (NGA). It was co-hosted by the NGA and the Chinese People’s Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries (CPAFFC).
Four Chinese provincial leaders from Zhejiang, Anhui, Yunnan and Qinghai met US governors and business leaders to exchange ideas in trade and investment, green energy, environmental protection and education.
Both sides inked more than 20 agreements or Memorandums of Understanding (MOU).
“The forum will build on and expand existing cooperation between the United States and China by encouraging state and provincial leaders to share best practices,” Reta Jo Lewis, special representative for global intergovernmental affairs at the US Department of State, said at a news conference.
“It will also formalize relationships between the leaders who are best placed to understand the economic, educational and environmental needs of their respective states and provinces,” she said.
A reciprocal visit of US governors to China is being discussed for October, she said.
The two countries have seen sub-national level exchanges for more than 10 years, including 36 sister provinces and states and 161 pairs of sister-cities, according to the US Department of State. In addition, in 2010 alone, at least eight governors led trade delegations to China and more than 100 Chinese provincial officials visited the US.
“The goal of the forum is to foster direct interaction at the sub-national level in order to promote economic growth and prosperity,” Lewis said.
More than 20 US governors participated in the forum and 15 states had one-on-one meetings with Chinese governors, she added.
Zhejiang provincial Party secretary Zhao Hongzhu, who led the Chinese delegation to the forum, said the exchange was “direct, practical and effective”.
“In the past, I could only meet one governor at a time, and now I have met so many of them here,” he told reporters on the sidelines of the forum.
“Most importantly, the forum will help enhance the exchanges with private companies.”
Most of the members of the Zhejiang delegation were from the business community and they are expected to land about 40 deals – worth about $4.2 billion – during this visit to the US, the official said.
On Monday, Zhejiang businesses had signed at least 12 deals worth $364 million with companies in Indiana, a sister state of Zhejiang.
For the next gathering, Zhao suggested the organizers narrow down the agenda, touch on more practical issues and host more flexible forms of discussions.
Following the Utah gathering, Chinese officials are now headed to some US states, including Texas, Maryland, Indiana and New Jersey.
The Anhui province delegation visited Maryland on Monday as the two celebrated their 31st anniversary of their sister state relationship. Anhui Governor Wang Sanyun and Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley signed a joint statement on intensifying their strategic cooperation and inked a number of economic contracts and agreements worth $1.54 billion.
Source: China Daily