China, September 2002

By Andreas Udbye, World Trade Center Tacoma

 

Day 1:
The 15-member trade mission, lead by WA Secretary of State Sam Reed, arrived in the great city of Shanghai Wednesday night. We had a 12-hour, uneventful flight from San Francisco, and were lodged in the historic Peace Hotel, centrally located on the "Bund", Shanghai's river promenade.
The time difference between Shanghai and the US West Coast is 15 hours, which makes for quite a jet lag. We were tired as dogs last night, but woke up at four o'clock this morning, clear and ready for today's meetings and outings.

The first meeting of the day was with Shanghai's Port Authority, which outlined their ambitious plans for a new US$ 2 billion container port off the coast of Shanghai. This is already the world's fourth largest container port, and their prediction is that they will be #1 within 15 years, handling 30 million TEU's annually.

We also met with real estate developers and a railroad leasing company, before being hosted to a formal banquet dinner with the Vice Mayor of Shanghai and other city officials.

This is a fascinating city, easy to fall in love with, and less polluted and congested than I had feared. It has some amazing new, bold architecture.


Day 2 (last Friday) was spent in Shanghai, with a focus on the newly developed Pudong area, right across the river from the old town (the Bund). Over the past 10 years, the Chinese government has poured more than 40 billion dollars into developing Pudong into one of the most modern business and industrial communities in the world. Read my lips: Everybody will learn where Pudong is over the next decade. This is China's largest and perhaps most viable business and financial park. The construction of Asia's tallest building, the 101-story Global Finance Building, is just about to start (next to the world's tallest hotel, an 88-story building containing a Hyatt Regency). The only drawback about Pudong is that it is quite expensive to be China. But again, it has location, location, location. Shanghai's new international airport is located in the southern part of this area.
The Port of Shanghai will develop a huge, new offshore container port just south of the Pudong "peninsula".


Days 3-4 were spent in the town of Wuxi, less than 2 hours drive northwest of Shanghai (passed Suzhou). Never heard of Wuxi? Well, it has a population of about 4.5 million, and is another very viable alternative for the establishment of foreign owned business operations. The city has several industrial business parks under development, and has already attracted factories from many global firms, such as Sony, York, Kodak, etc. You don't have to be a worldwide giant to establish yourself here; the city seems very keen on making it easy for small and medium sized firms to get started in China. They offer convenient one-stop services for foreign investors.

Our Wuxi hosts were extremely hospitable and friendly, and we were served some fantastic meals. A Chinese banquet exposes you to at least 12-15 dishes, and I eat everything, so these meals are a delight for me. In Wuxi I ate, among other things, jellyfish, snake, eel, bait fish, duck heads, but also more conventional fare such as peking duck, shrimp, mushrooms, etc. The unusual thing about the cooking around Shanghai is that it contains almost no rice. Some of the meals were lacking rice entirely.

Last night (day 4) we flew from Shanghai to Beijing, and we have had a full day here today (day 5). We just came back from a formal banquet dinner at People's Great Hall, which is quite an honor considering the small size of our group. Today we have also met with the Chinese Assistant Secretary of State, the Director General of the Beijing Olympic Games Organizing Committee and an automobile distributorship. There has also been some time now and then for shopping and sightseeing, so the group is quite happy with the diversity and progression of the mission.

Tomorrow night I will fly to our sister city, Fuzhou, but now is time for a good night's sleep. I have a jet lag even after five days here. Everybody is doing fine, and most of us are looking forward to more simple, American food again.


Days 6 and 7:
The group was hosted to a formal banquet in the People's Great Hall on
Monday night, and we were back there again for a reception on Tuesday
morning to meet the Chinese "Speaker of the House". Sam Reed was a great spokesman for Washington State in this formal, yet lighthearted meeting, and we are just amazed at the friendly and welcoming reception we are receiving everywhere in China.

On Tuesday the mission was winding down with individual trips to the Great Wall, museums and shopping, and in the afternoon we flew back to Shanghai. The planes are absolutely packed here in China (I have yet to fly on a Chinese plane with empty seats).

I flew on to Tacoma's sister city, Fuzhou, and have spent a very interesting day there today. I am now back in Shanghai again, enjoying Peace Hotel for one more night before heading back with United Airlines Thursday morning. We are 15 hours ahead of Pacific Standard Time, so you are just waking up when it is time for me to go to bed. Let us pray for a safe and uneventful 9-11 this year.

I am very much inspired to work more on promoting exports and imports with China after this trip. No doubt about it: the world will again have two superpowers in a few years.

Participants:

David Chong, Seattle Pacific Trading, Hong Kong (co-organizer)
Ron Chow, Seattle Pacific Trading, Tacoma (co-organizer)
Jae Chung, T & M Company #1, Seattle
Wendy Cooper, Marketplace of Queen Anne, Seattle
Linda Danforth, Congressman Adam Smith's Office
Gretchen Davis, GRD International, Tacoma
Jeff Gerbing, Gerbing's Heated Clothing, Union
David Graybill, Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber of Commerce
Linda Lee, Gordon Thomas Honeywell et al.
Patrick McDonald, Secretary of State's Office
Beth Meade, Shanghai
Mary Ruth Meade, World Trade Center Tacoma
Scott Nelson, Nexus Communications, Olympia
Margie Reed, Secretary of State's Office
Sam Reed, Secretary of State
Andreas Udbye, World Trade Center Tacoma

"Please note the following disclaimer:  The mission reports are written during or right after the missions by mission participants.  The views, comments and statements in the reports are solely their own, and do not necessarily reflect the opinions or any official positions of this office.  The reports are reproduced here because they give an interesting and detailed account of the day-to-day experiences and impressions that participants typically encounter on these missions."