Honoring longstanding China-US ties

By Yuan Zhang in New York | China Daily USA | Updated: 2017-09-15 11:40

Honoring longstanding China-US ties

Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner's first trip to China aims to strengthen economic ties

Q: You said your trip to China this month "honors longstanding relationships with China". What is the current relationship between Illinois and China? What are the main goals for your first visit to China?

A: Illinois has a strong and positive relationship with China that includes valuable economic, educational and cultural ties. My main goals are to foster and strengthen the economic and diplomatic partnerships between Illinois and China, and to identify new opportunities that would benefit both places.

Q: Chinese President Xi Jinping emphasizes greatly the importance of province-state level exchanges and cooperation in many sectors. What is your view regarding cooperation between China and the US? What can your state do to further enhance such exchanges and cooperation?

Honoring longstanding China-US ties

A: Illinois is a key trade partner in the US for China. We are the leading state in the Midwest for exports to China, with exports totaling $5 billion in 2016. Our export products included machinery, computers and electronic products, transportation equipment and agriculture and food products. Additionally, Illinois imported more than $32 billion in goods last year from China.

Illinois enjoys a strong bilateral partnership with China that extends beyond trade cooperation and includes education and cultural exchanges. We will continue to pursue and enhance cooperation between our two great states both at the local and state levels.

Q: You are going to visit Shanghai and Hangzhou, two economically advanced big cities in China, and you may also have the chance to take China's high-speed train from Shanghai to Hangzhou. In Shanghai and Hangzhou, are you also going to visit some Chinese companies in addition to meeting with officials?

A: The Illinois delegation will meet with government representatives to re-affirm Illinois' commitment to China. We will also meet with companies in the area to thank them for their investment in Illinois, which includes discussions about potential expansion opportunities. However, we cannot comment on any potential deals being discussed.

Illinois has had a presence in Shanghai since 2000 with more than 400 Illinois companies located in China, including Caterpillar, Motorola, John Deere, Andrew Corporation and Illinois Tool Works. We are proud of our strong business ties and look forward to continuing to develop them through relationships made during this trip and into the future.

Q: What is the current situation of Chinese investment in Illinois? What are the advantages for Illinois to attract so many Chinese investors? What sectors will you recommend to potential Chinese investors in the years to come?

A: Chinese multinational companies interested in doing business in North America will find that Illinois is at the heart of the North American market. We are a diversified economy that is centrally located, with a world-class transportation infrastructure and a highly-skilled workforce. Illinois is home to 37 Fortune 500 companies and boasts three of the top 50 global universities. I am proud to say that Illinois is a global leader in advanced manufacturing, chemicals, life sciences, and professional services.

Honoring longstanding China-US ties

In Illinois, we continue to strengthen industries that we believe align well with the strengths of Chinese companies, such as manufacturing, alternative energy, transportation, logistics and high tech. My goal is for Illinois to be the North American home for the manufacture and assembly of solar panels. That is why companies like Wanxiang and Goldwind are such important partners for Illinois.

Q: In addition to economic cooperation, other important sectors for cooperation are trade and investment, education, cultural exchanges and tourism. What is your view on cooperating with China such areas and are there any plans or programs to promote cooperation in these sectors?

A: It is wonderful that Illinois and China enjoy a long tradition of cultural and educational exchanges. China is now Illinois' second international market providing visitors to our state. In 2016, Illinois was happy to host 235,000 visitors from the People's Republic of China. Further, Illinois ranks fifth nationwide in attracting international students to our universities. We have nearly 50,000 international students studying at Illinois colleges and universities.

The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is consistently ranked as having one of the largest international student populations in higher education in the country, with more than 11,000 international students and 2,000 international scholars each year. For the 2016-2017 year, graduate and undergraduate enrollment at the school included more than 5,600 students from China. I am glad that so many Chinese students choose Illinois for their studies.

Illinois also has 10 sister cities with Chinese cities, including Chicago-Shanghai, Changzhou-Rockford, Quincy-Jiaxing and Morton-Tiantai. These relationships provide opportunities for us to continue to deepen and strengthen the cultural, educational and business ties between China and Illinois.

Q: What else would you like to say to our readers in China and the US?

I greatly value the strong relationship between Illinois and China, and I am optimistic about the future of our mutually beneficial partnership. As an aside, I also must note that I believe Chicago has one of the best Chinatowns in Americagreat food, great shopping, and great people!


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