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DC plans mission to expand China ties

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

By Chen Weihua in Washington, China Daily USA

The District of Columbia plans to send a trade mission to China this fall to expand the bilateral relationship, according to Deputy Mayor Brian Kenner.

Kenner went on the last Washington DC trade mission to China in November 2015, the first overseas trip since Mayor Muriel Bowser assumed office early that year. The trip took the 40-strong delegation to Beijing and Shanghai.

On the upcoming trip, the delegation plans to go to Beijing, Chengdu, Shenzhen and maybe one other city. Kenner said they want to make sure they are not just going to the two biggest Chinese cities of Beijing and Shanghai, but also second-tier cities.

Kenner, deputy mayor for planning and economic development, said the delegation will look at other economic engines in China. "We want to make sure that we look at other ways that we might be able to increase investment and increase participation," he said.

DC first opened its China Center in Shanghai in 2012 under then-mayor Vincent Gray, who opened the second DC office in China in Beijing during his 2014 trip. It was a year in which DC and Beijing marked the 30th anniversary of their sister-city relationship.

Kenner emphasized that the DC China centers in Beijing and Shanghai are available not just to the DC government, but also to companies in Washington.

"It also functions as an opportunity for Chinese industries and investment businesses to have an opportunity to come to Washington DC," he told a recent meeting with the foreign media in Washington.

One of the investment opportunities in DC for Chinese is the EB-5 program, created by the US Congress in 1990 to stimulate the US economy through job creation and capital investment by foreign investors. In return, these investors may obtain green cards to become US citizens.

DC has seen a $300 million investment in EB-5 projects, much of it from China. "We have been very happy that kind of flow of capital has been occurring, and we encourage more of that," he said.

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