As John Kerry concluded earlier this week his first visit to China as Secretary of State, a delegation of U.S. governors arrived in Beijing to advance U.S.-China economic cooperation at the local level. Iowa Governor Terry Branstad led the delegation to the third U.S.-China Governors Forum (the Forum), which included Virginia Governor Robert McDonnell and Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker.
I supported the U.S. governors' delegation at the Forum, which was co-convened by the National Governors Association (NGA) and the Chinese Peoples' Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries (CPAFFC) in Beijing and Tianjin, April 15-16. The three U.S. governors and five Chinese provincial leaders discussed economic and trade cooperation and environmental management with U.S. and Chinese experts, and then shared a dialogue among the leaders. U.S. governors welcomed Chinese investors and expressed their hopes that the two nations can increase cooperation in agriculture, trade, culture, and education, as well as share best practices in addressing food safety and environmental protection.
Chinese President Xi Jinping met with the U.S. and Chinese governors on April 15, and called for deeper regional cooperation between the two countries. President Xi encouraged U.S. states and Chinese provinces to work more closely in traditional sectors like agriculture and advance cooperation in new areas such as energy conservation, urban planning, and infrastructure. The U.S. governors also met with Ambassador Gary Locke.
As the U.S.-China bilateral trade relationship is one of the world's largest, the three U.S. governors led trade and investment delegations to China to capture economic opportunities. Governor Branstad continued to build upon Iowa's long-term relationship with President Xi. Looking to expand sales of Wisconsin-made products, Governor Walker attended the opening ceremony for a Harley-Davidson dealership in Tianjin. China is Wisconsin's number one trade partner outside of North America. Governor McDonnell promoted Virginia's agricultural and tourism industries in an effort to increase jobs and capital investment in the Commonwealth.
One of the real highlights for me during my three and a half years as Special Representative has been to witness the development of the U.S.-China Subnational Initiative. The Memorandum of Understanding creating this initiative was signed during Chinese then-President Hu Jintao's visit to Washington, D.C., in January 20ll. Since then, we have seen a historic level of engagement at the subnational level, including through the U.S.-China Governors Forum. These concrete examples of U.S.-China engagement at the local level will continue to promote not only trade and investment, but also cooperation on environmental issues, as well as educational and cultural exchanges in the years to come.