Sister cities step up business

Updated: 2013-11-08 09:40

By MAY ZHOU in Houston (China Daily USA)

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"I have visited quite a few cities in China in the past a few years, but the city of Shenzhen impressed me the most", Ed Gonzales, Houston mayor pro-tem and council member told a group of local business leaders and professionals, local governmental officials and a five-person delegation led by Li Shi, deputy director general of Invest Shenzhen of China yesterday in Houston, Texas.

"Shenzhen has grown from a sleepy and quiet little fishing town to a major international metropolis in about 30 years, and that is quite an achievement," he said.

Organized by the Houston-Shenzhen Sister City Association and North American Representative Office of Shenzhen, a conference entitled Invest in Shenzhen, Building a Winning Future was held at Hilton America in downtown Houston on Nov 7.

Li Shi and Shao Ting, director of communications and marketing for Invest Shenzhen presented Shenzhen to local business and government leaders, and called for greater cooperation between the two sister cities, especially in the fields of bio-medicine, bio-technology and high-tech.

According to Li and Shao, Shenzhen's GDP ranked it number 27 in the world, and in the past 30 years, it has given birth to a number of major companies, such as China Merchant Bank, Ping An, Huawei and Tencent (the world's third largest Internet company), and 53 Fortune 500 companies have set up major regional offices there.

"We have a well-rounded economic structure, a sound legal system, a fair and transparent business environment," boasted Shao Ting, "and we are ready to do more business with our long-time partners in Houston."

To further medical cooperation between the two cities, Deputy Director Li Shi on behalf of Invest Shen signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Irman Alibhai, vice-president of BioHouston.

Also, O & P Enterprise, Ltd., a finance and investment company represented by its Senior Partner Joe Ochoa, also signed a MOU with Invest Shenzhen.

"We have been going over to China for five years and believe we can bring a lot of business to the table," Ochoa said.

Cao Derong, commercial counselor from the consulate general of China in Houston, praised the vibrant economy in Houston, pointing out that Houston's prosperity meant better prospects for cooperation between the two sister cities.

Later in the day, the Shenzhen delegation visited Texas Medical Center. According to Sandy Phan-Gillis, president of the Houston-Shenzhen Sister City Association, the two cities have been busy exchanging the training of doctors and nurses and conducting joint research in oncology.

"In fact, Methodist Hospital has joint medical research projects with People's First Hospital of Shenzhen and the graduate school of Qinghua University in Shenzhen," she said.

Li Shi told China Daily that there were also a lot of exchanges in the private sector between the two cities, but Shenzhen Municipality was stepping up efforts to build bridges to encourage more exchange— and "this was a trip specially made for Houston".