California Commits to Cooperation on Environment, Trade and Investment With China's Largest Province

Posted by Jennifer Galt
April 23, 2013
California Governor Brown and Guangdong Governor Zhu Xiaodan After a Signing Ceremony in China

Recognizing the long history and deep ties between California and Guangdong dating back to the 1800's, I was excited to support Governor Brown's visit to Guangdong and to have played a role in bringing together the United States' largest state by population and economy and China's largest province.

In Guangzhou, Governor Brown was warmly greeted by the leaders of Guangdong, including Party Secretary Hu Chunhua and Governor Zhu Xiaodan, as the delegation from California inked agreements in Guangdong to deepen their ties and to work together on low carbon economic development. Chinese business representatives attending a breakfast in Guangzhou hosted by American Chamber (AmCham) South China on April 15 were visibly moved when they heard Governor Brown talk about how the first wave of intrepid Chinese immigrants to California overcame tremendous odds and obstacles and helped build the "Golden State" and how the Chinese-American community has excelled, topping indexes measuring income levels and educational attainment. Audience members were also impressed when they heard from the Governor that city leaders, such as San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee and Oakland Mayor Jean Quan, trace their ancestry back to Guangdong.

It was fascinating to learn that Governor Brown's connections with Guangdong dates back several decades. The Governor mentioned that decades before receiving then-Vice President Xi Jinping in February 2012, he welcomed President Xi's father, Xi Zhongxun, in 1980 to California, when the elder Xi was Governor of Guangdong and led a group of senior Chinese leaders to a visit to the United States in the early days of China's reform and opening up policy. In his meeting with Shenzhen Party Secretary Wang Rong, Brown said he visited Shenzhen in 1986 and was amazed at how the city has transformed into the fourth-largest city in China by GDP.

The Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between California and Guangdong on promoting low carbon development stood out as one area where there is tremendous potential for cooperation and mutual learning that will benefit not only the citizens of both countries, but also the world more broadly. Beyond cooperation with the government, California is also working with Chinese business to create jobs in the state while also improving the environment. On the last day of the trip, Governor Brown visited automaker BYD, which is planning to manufacture electric buses in California after winning a $12.1 million contract to supply the city of Long Beach with public buses. The Governor and BYD Chairman Wang Chuanfu discussed ways to help California attain its ambitious goal of having one-third of its energy supplies come from renewable sources by 2020 and one million electric cars on California roads in 2025.

Governor Brown's successful visit reinforced for me the importance of sub-national cooperation between the United States and China as a way to build platforms for cooperation between our two countries. I expect the visit will pay tremendous dividends in the coming years in promoting not only trade and investment, but practical cooperation on the environment and educational and cultural exchanges as well.

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