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Vice-Premier Liu honored in Houston

Updated: 2015-06-22 13:58
By CHANG JUN and MAY ZHOU in Houston (chinadaily.com.cn)

Visiting Chinese Vice-Premier Liu Yandong arrived in Houston on Saturday, the second stop on her US trip, and urged the State of Texas to play a bigger role in efforts to advance the China-US relationship.

At a welcoming banquet hosted by the Asia Society Texas Center with around 300 attendees spanning the social spectrum, Liu and her delegation were warmly received by federal and state legislators as well as elected officials in Houston. Congressmen Al Green and Blake Farenthold and Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee also attended the welcome banquet and offered a warm welcome to Liu.

Former US President George H. W. Bush wrote a congratulatory letter, which was read at the gathering.

China values its relationship with Houston for many reasons, Liu said in her remarks. It was one of the stops on late Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping's historic US visit in 1978 just after the two nations had normalized their bilateral relationship. Former Chinese President Jiang Zemin paid a visit to Houston in 2002. It's the hometown of former US President George H. W. Bush, who made great efforts at developing the China-US relationship. And the Chinese government chose Houston to lay the groundwork for its first consulate general in the US.

Besides being well-known for its economic power, energy and petroleum and space research, Houston also gained popularity among Chinese basketball fans because of NBA star Yao Ming's 10-year residency in the city and his tenure with the Houston Rockets, said Liu.

Houston holds a prominent position in the China-US relationship, said Liu. To date, there are roughly 100 Houston-based companies operating in China, nearly 800 Houston companies doing business with China and about 30 Chinese companies have invested in the Houston market.

Over the years, we have seen progress made in trade, investment and people-to-people exchanges, said Liu. 

China is Texas' second largest importer, and the fourth largest destination of exports. Texas' exports to China rank third among all 50 US states, and trade volume with China accounts for 10 percent of the US national total. 

“The state of Texas serves as a good example of a robust bilateral relationship between China and the southern region of the US,” said Liu. 

Houston continues to share extensive ties with China on various fronts, said Houston Mayor Pro-tem Ed Gonzalez. “During last a few years, Houston's trade with China has quadrupled. We have had a Sister City relationship with Shenzhen since 1986, and earlier this month we signed a friendship agreement with Shanghai,” Gonzalez said, adding that his city ardently promotes people-to-people connections and carries out exchanges in the realms of trade, tourism, municipal delegation visits and culture.

“During my trip to the US — from Pittsburgh in the north to Houston in the south — everywhere I've been I've felt the American people's enthusiasm for learning more about China,” Liu said at the banquet, adding that people-to-people exchange, along with mutual political trust and economic cooperation will be the three pillars to support the US-China relationship.

After the US-China High-Level Consultation on People-to-People Exchange (CPE) was initiated in 2010, about 300 projects have been implemented between China and the US, including the 100,000 Strong initiative, which aimed at sending 100,000 young Americans to study in China, and “that goal has been met”, said Liu. 

Currently, there are around 460,000 Chinese students studying in the US. On a daily basis, about 12,000 people are traveling across the Pacific each day and every 17 minutes there is a flight taking off either in China for the US or vice versa. 

“In the past six years, the two sides have made much progress in exchanges in the areas of education, sports, science and technology, culture, women and youth,” said Liu, adding that the US and China are pushing forward for more dynamic cooperation and exchanges in the education and public health sectors in the upcoming dialogues. 

Liu is in the US for the 6th China-US High-Level CPE, which will be officially kicked off by Liu and US Secretary of State John Kerry in Washington on June 23. The CPE provides a high-level annual forum for government and private-sector representatives from both sides to discuss cooperation and exchanges in a broad, strategic manner.

Liu vowed to work closely Secretary Kerry, exploring how to further strengthen cooperation between the two countries in education, science and technology, culture, public health, women and youth, in order to lay a solid foundation among people in both countries for a new type of major country relationship, and make sure the upcoming state visit by President Xi Jinping to the US in September is a great success.

Contact the writers at junechang@chinadailyusa.com or mayzhou@chinadailyusa.com.

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