As the United States and China continue to build stronger government-to-government ties, there is a growing awareness in both countries that increased cooperation at the subnational level will strengthen our bilateral relationship and benefit both our countries. The United States and China are taking steps to broaden and deepen bilateral relations by assisting U.S. and Chinese subnational leaders in expanding their own relationships.
From February 25-28, Hunan Province Party Secretary Zhou Qiang visited Washington, DC to attend the National Governors Association (NGA) Winter Meeting. Secretary Zhou's visit is the first by a Chinese provincial leader under a memorandum of understanding (MOU) signed by Secretary Hillary Clinton and Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi in January concerning the establishment of a U.S.-China Governors Forum to promote subnational cooperation. The forum will serve as a platform to promote peer-to-peer exchanges between U.S. state governors and Chinese provincial party secretaries and governors and will be co-convened by the NGA and the Chinese People's Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries (CPAFFC), the NGA's counterpart in China.
Secretary Clinton greeted Party Secretary Zhou and CPAFFC Vice President Madam Li Xiaolin at the U.S. Department of State and expressed her continuing support for the subnational effort. Party Secretary Zhou and Madam Li also met with Under Secretary for Economic, Energy, and Agricultural Affairs Robert Hormats, Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary Daniel Kritenbrink, and National Security Council Senior Director for Asian Affairs Jeff Bader.
At the NGA winter meeting, Party Secretary Zhou delivered remarks during the Opening Plenary Session and met with the Governors of the states of Washington, Delaware, North Carolina, Utah, Nebraska, and Montana. Each of the Governors expressed his or her desire to expand relations with China and with Hunan Province in particular. Party Secretary Zhou and Madam Li also spoke with the Governors and NGA leadership about planning for the launch of the U.S.-China Governors Forum in July 2011, where Party Secretaries and Governors from a number of Chinese provinces will meet with U.S. Governors and business leaders to exchange ideas and enter into partnerships in areas including, but not limited to, trade and investments, energy, infrastructure, transportation, educational exchange, and tourism.
During the NGA meeting, two other accords were signed, one between the NGA and the CPAFFC formally establishing the U.S.-China Governors Forum and the other between Hunan Province and the State of Delaware to increase business exchanges and investment promotion. With the agreement, Governor Markell hopes to increase jobs and opportunities for the citizens of Delaware by increasing exports and attracting investment from international employers.
Earlier this year, more than 70 state and local elected leaders and staff from throughout the United States attended a Smart Partnership Dialogue: Global Engagement Series on "Expanding Relationships in China for State and Local Governments" presented by my office, the Office of Global Intergovernmental Affairs, and the Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs. On February 10, participants from the state and local governments of Georgia, Illinois, Maryland, Ohio, North Carolina, and others and from the organizations that represent them, came to the U.S. Department of State to learn about the political and economic relationship between the United States and China, as well as about the initiatives, programs and resources available to them from the Federal agencies as they look to increase cooperation with China.
Under Secretary Hormats delivered the keynote address, providing an overview of the U.S.-China economic relations and stressing the importance of subnational cooperation to achieving our economic goals. The forum also featured speakers from a variety of federal agencies, including the Departments of Energy, Commerce, and Treasury, as well as representatives from the Delaware Governor's Office and the private sector.