The Washington State China Relations Council helped to organize and lead a weeklong business mission to China May 9 to 13 that resulted in nine major agreements and investments.
Seattle Mayor Ed Murray and 60 business and education leaders visited Hong Kong and Shenzhen, a city with more than 10 million people that has become the high-tech and innovation hub of China. The trip was part of a larger effort to encourage more foreign direct investment in Seattle, expand economic opportunities for local companies, and establish international partnerships. WSCRC worked in partnership with the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce and Trade Development Alliance of Greater Seattle to support the International Leadership Mission to Shenzhen.
Among the deals announced in Shenzhen:
• A new nonstop flight between Seattle and Shenzhen by Xiamen Airlines will begin service in September.
• Shenzhen-based genomics company BGI and the University of Washington signed an agreement to develop a joint precision medicine institute to advance biomedical research and health care.
• China Vanke, the largest residential builder in China, announced its first investment in Seattle, partnering with developer Laconia to invest $200 million in a new residential tower.
“Seattle and Shenzhen are changing the world, and at the same time our cities are changed by the power of innovation,” Murray said. “Through stronger partnerships with our international peer cities, we can help each foster new advancements in technology and sustainability and create new opportunities for growth.”
WSCRC, which hosted “Shenzhen Day” for 65 companies and Shenzhen Vice Mayor Tang Jie on Earth Day in 2015, has played a key role in connecting the two cities and promoting partnerships between companies and organizations.
During the May trip, WSCRC signed an agreement with the Shenzhen Foundation for International Exchange and Cooperation to enhance strategic relationships and promote non-governmental cooperation between Shenzhen and Seattle. The agreement focuses on deepening exchanges between cross-border enterprises and entrepreneurs, as well as joint cultural and environmental programs.
Other agreements included:
• The City of Seattle and the City of Shenzhen signed an agreement to support “collaboration and exchanges among relevant entities in medical research, medical education, and the biotech and health industry in Seattle and Shenzhen.”
• Washington State University and BGI signed an agreement to cooperate on efforts to establish and conduct programs and activities of basic and applied research, technology and information transfer, and economic development.
• Snohomish County and the Economic, Trade and Information Commission of Shenzhen Municipality signed an MOU to develop a long-term promotion of bilateral trade and investment between the two regions.
Following the visit to Shenzhen, 20 business, government and academic leaders traveled with Mayor Murray to Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province, for a city partnership and ecommerce mission organized by WSCRC. The delegation included executives from Amazon, Blue Nile, Costco and the University of Washington.
Hangzhou Mayor Zhang Hongming met Mayor Murray and the delegation and both sides exchanged ideas about the city partnership. The two cities signed an agreement to promote cooperation in trade and economy, ecommerce, information technology, life sciences, education and people-to-people exchanges. Mayor Zhang then hosted the group for an official lunch.
Members of the delegation then visited the headquarters of Alibaba and met with company executives.
During the Hangzhou visit, WSCRC signed agreements with two Hangzhou business organizations to begin exchanging visits and cooperating to promote the growth of business ties. Hangzhou’s Philadelphia China-US Culture Center hosted a “Seattle Meets Hangzhou” event with dozens of businesses from Hangzhou and interactive discussions on cross-border e-commerce, investment, education and tourism.
A city of more than eight million people, Hangzhou embodies both traditional Chinese culture and online industries of the future and will host the G20 Summit, to be held in China for the first time in September.
“This trip to Shenzhen and Hangzhou achieved many tangible results for our region,” said Kristi Heim, president of the Washington State China Relations Council. “We are so pleased to have played a role in bringing about new partnerships and closer ties between Seattle and two of the most innovative, important and dynamic cities in the world. Building these channels for engagement will help create more economic opportunities and lasting positive relationships between our people.”
“The trip reinforced our region’s close — and deepening — ties with China,” said Marc Berger, Senior Director, Executive Communications & China Practice at Nyhus Communications and a WSCRC board member. “The agreements that were signed and the announcement of Xiamen Airlines’ direct flight from Shenzhen to Seattle added important substance to our already strong relationships. Seattle will continue to grow in importance as a partner for Chinese companies that are investing in the U.S., and this trip further solidified the role of WSCRC at the forefront of the US-China relationship.”
“I would like to thank each person who has contributed to the success of this important mission to China,” said Jim Young, founder of Century Law Firm, PLLC and Vice Chair of the WSCRC board. “It’s probably the largest delegation from Seattle to China ever, involving the teamwork of many outstanding organizations and govermental agencies. Our success simply would not have been possible without the many sleepless nights of our friends in Seattle, Hong Kong, Shenzhen and Hangzhou.”