By Julia Hurst
During the National Lieutenant Governors Association economic development and humanitarian mission to China in October, several lieutenant governors met with officials from the sister provinces of their states. These relationships gave rise to exchange of information, education, trade and more.
“The mission offered an insight into the unique opportunities that exist in forming relationships between China and our respective states,” said Alabama Lt. Gov. Jim Folsom.
The mission was part of NLGA Chair Wisconsin Lt. Gov. Barbara Lawton’s focus on bringing jobs and economic development to the U.S. Lawton met with Zhao Erli, Heilongjiang Province’s director-general of the Overseas Chinese Affairs Office. Erli expressed interest in hosting a delegation of Wisconsin agriculture, dairy, animal husbandry and cranberry experts to discuss best practices, dairy modernization and potential trade opportunities.
Kansas Lt. Gov. Mark Parkinson met with Yang Weibin, deputy director general of the Foreign Affairs Office for China’s Henan Province, the sister province of Kansas. Weibin said he wanted to put together a delegation of Chinese business and political leaders to visit Kansas to discuss trade, alternative energy development and methods to improve infrastructure.
Several delegations of Chinese provincial officials have visited Connecticut for training and information exchange—and the visits are due mostly to the state’s 22-year-old sister province relationship with China’s Shandong province. That’s according to Connecticut Lt. Gov. Michael Fedele.
At Central Connecticut State University’s China Business Center, Shandong officials enroll for six months to study courses in public administration, economic development and human resources. A delegation of Shandong provincial judges visited the state in 2005 in the hope of establishing a similar training program for provincial judges. That program, supported by Connecticut’s chief justice, has not yet been established.
“The Chinese take your visit very seriously,” said Shanghai Vice-Mayor Tang Dengjie.
“There is perhaps no more important bilateral relationship in the world than that between the U.S.A. and China,” Lawton said.
-Julia Hurst is the executive director of the National Lieutenant Governors Association, a CSG affiliate.