Silicon mayors are on mission to China

Updated: 2014-04-18 11:40

By Chen Jia in San Francisco (China Daily USA)

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In a move to draw investment and forge connections with Chinese entrepreneurs and officials, the mayors of Menlo Park, Union City, Millbrae and Morgan Hill, North California, announced plans for a landmark joint trip to China on Thursday.

And the delegation may include mayors from as many as eight more Silicon Valley cities before it takes off.

"It could be the largest-ever group of American mayors to visit China to further localize and deepen China-California relations," Stephanie Xu, president of China Silicon Valley, the trip's organizer, told China Dailyat a press briefing in San Francisco on Thursday.

"These Silicon Valley leaders will visit Chinese innovation hubs and sources of investment that are already reshaping California cities," she said.

The mayors will be joined by members of the Chinese Consulate in San Francisco and representatives from other Silicon Valley cities and leading corporations. The delegation will leave for Chinaon June 16 and their 11-day trip will have four stops - Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen and Wuhan.

"The city of Menlo Park welcomes all kinds of investments, including from China," Menlo Park Mayor Ray Mueller said. "We were recently approached by some Chinese investors looking for office space. We will certainly inform them should anything become available."

"Real estate, green tech and other industries, we expect Chinese investors from various fields," Carol Dutra-Vernaci, mayor of Union City, said.

In the past two years, the state of California has been very ambitious in its quest for more investment from China.

Last year, California Governor Jerry Brown led a week-long trade mission to China with more than 75 participants to Beijing, Nanjing, Guangzhou and Shenzhen.

His delegation came to China just as the California-China Trade and Investment Office reopened after a similar one had closed in 2003. Today, the new office is funded with $1 million in private-sector funds raised by the Bay Area Council business group.

Silicon mayors are on mission to China

In 2014, San FranciscoMayor Ed Lee visited China for his third time on a trade and cultural exchange mission.

On his first trade trip to China in April, Lee secured a $100,000 donation for retrofitting the San Francisco Chinese Hospital.

That trip also promoted the sports business between the two sides. The Golden State Warriors - San Francisco's NBA team - took two games to Chinese basketball fans in Shanghai and Beijing in October.

About 80 business leaders from the San Francisco Bay Area paid a $6,000 participation fee each to join Lee on his China trip in November.

Oakland Mayor Jean Quan was also off to China with a Bay Area business delegation last autumn. As a result, Chinese company Zarsion agreed to invest $1.5 billion to transform 65 acres of industrial land in Oakland into a waterfront neighborhood with 3,100 homes.

Kelly Zhang contributed to the story.

 Silicon mayors are on mission to China

Menlo Park Mayor Ray Mueller (left) speaks with Union City Mayor Carol Dutra-Vernaci (center) and Stephanie Xu, President of China Silicon Valley, organizer of a multi-mayor mission to China announced on Thursday. Chen Jia / China Daily

(China Daily USA 04/18/2014 page1)