U.S.-China Governors Forum Marks Historic Step in Subnational Engagement

Posted by Reta Jo Lewis
July 21, 2011
Special Representative Lewis and Others Read Welcoming Remarks at U.S.-China Governors Forum

This past week, I was in Salt Lake City, Utah for the launch of the U.S.-China Governors Forum. U.S. governors from 20 states participated in the Forum, along with Chinese Party Secretary Zhao Hongzhu of Zhejiang province, Governor Qin Guangrong of Yunnan province, Governor Luo Huining of Qinghai province, and Governor Wang Sanyun of Anhui province. Participants discussed issues related to trade and investment, education, energy, and the environment. In addition to the Forum gathering, governors from several U.S. states and territories scheduled one-on-one meetings with the Chinese provincial leaders.

The Forum highlighted the role that Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton's vision of 21st Century Statecraft will play in the future. A key tenet of 21st Century Statecraft is engagement at all levels of government. Sub-national engagement is critical, because our state and local leaders serve as barometers for the way federal policies are received. For example, governors and mayors are much more closely connected to businesses that open doors and add jobs when trade policy is sound and when there is trade parity.

The Forum also resulted in the Utah-Qinghai Ecopartnership as well as approximately 20 MOUs, including one which outlined a reciprocal visit of U.S. Governors to China in October 2011. We hope to see similar Forums being added to strategic dialogues between the United States and our friends in the coming year. Indeed, I look forward to working with colleagues on the return visit to China.

Launching the U.S.-China Governors Forum required broad cooperation from throughout the Department of State and the interagency community. Within the Department, I was very pleased to work with our Embassy in Beijing, our Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs, and our Bureau of Economic, Energy, and Business Affairs. Interagency participants included the White House and the Department of Commerce. Both President Barack Obama and Chinese President Hu Jintao wrote letters, which were read at the opening of the Forum, to welcome attendees. In addition, Secretary Clinton and Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi also penned letters which were delivered to all Forum participants.

The U.S. delegation was led by Washington Governor Christine Gregoire, and the Chinese delegation was led by Zhejiang Party Secretary Zhao. The National Governors Association provided the venue for the Forum during its Summer Annual Meeting. The Chinese Peoples Assocation for Friendship with Foreign Countries (CPAFFC) served as the co-convener for the Forum and will likely be the host for the United States' reciprocal visit planned for October of this year.

The U.S.-China Governors Forum in Utah took months of planning, but the results were well worth the effort. The gathering brought about greater mutual understanding and cooperation and advanced opportunities for investment on both sides of the Pacific. It generated a historic amount of cooperation among state, federal, and international communities, thus creating significant opportunities for governors in the future.

For more information on the U.S.-China Governors Forum, please click <a data-cke-saved-href="http://www.nga.org/cms/home.html" href="http://www.nga.org/cms/home.html" title="here target=" _blank"="">here.

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