Conference Of Mayors Delegation Meets With Beijing Mayor Wang Qishan
By Kay Scrimger
October 31, 2005
Led by U.S. Conference of Mayors President Long Beach Mayor Beverly O’Neill, the Conference delegation to China met with Beijing Mayor Wang Qishan on October 13, for a lively exchange of ideas and discussion of what mayors hold in common, regardless of their nationality.
Upon becoming mayor in February 2004, Mayor Wang contacted mayors of other cities in China and throughout the world.“We face a lot of issues of common concern, and I wanted to talk to my counterparts,” he said.
“One of the issues we all have in common is that no matter what our nation, or however hard we mayors work, our citizens are never satisfied,” said Wang.
“The relationship between the China Association of Mayors and the U.S. Conference of Mayors strengthens opportunities for mayors to interact and learn from each other,” Wang added.
One of Wang’s priorities is to increase communications with as many of his 15 million citizens as possible. Since the beginning of January 2005, the mayor has systematically conducted a 1½ hour radio dialogue with his citizens.
Wang thanked Mayor O’Neill as the Conference President, the other mayors, and Tom Cochran for the Conference of Mayors’ efforts in strengthening the relationship with the China Association of Mayors. As Mayor of Beijing, he is also President of the China Association of Mayors, and a signatory to the U.S. Conference of Mayors-China Association of Mayors Memorandum of Understanding, October 11, 2005.
Conference of Mayors Delegation Also Meets with Officials of Foreign Affairs, Construction, and Commerce Ministries in Beijing
The Conference delegation to China also met October 13 with key officials of the Ministries of Foreign Affairs, Construction, and Commerce.
Director General He Yafei, Department of American and Oceanian Affairs, Ministry of Foreign Affairs: “Mayors are the Most Important Officials”
Director General He Yafei of the Foreign Affairs Ministry’s Department of American and Oceanian Affairs discussed the following U.S.-China issues:
“I believe that mayors are the most important officials of all. Political relationships can be swayed by the wind; they go up and down. The solid relationship is between people and those who represent them – mayors. Mayors are closest to the people.”
“Change in China will come at the human level rather than by edict.” By bringing mayors together, the China Association of Mayors and The U.S. Conference of Mayors have the ability to bring about [positive] change.”
- The U.S. and Chinese economies are increasingly intertwined. For example, by the end of August 2005, more than 50,000 U.S. ventures had been established in almost every part of China, not just in the coastal areas but also in the internal areas of the nation, where labor is cheaper.
- China must shift its economic strategy to rely more on its domestic market. “We cannot just rely on exports.”
- China must increase energy consumption and make it more environmentally-friendly.
- The two nations have a common interest in transcending trade disputes. “We will rise together, and, if we fall, we will fall together.” We can handle trade disputes.
In addressing differences between the two nations, China and the United States have instituted strategic dialogues, in which officials discuss frankly why they have adopted a selected policy, provide historical perspective, explain the logic behind the policy, and share scholarly and other materials. In this way, they seek consensus, or at least a better understanding of the other nation’s reasoning.
Among China’s major challenges are transportation problems, such as traffic congestion, unemployment, and migration from rural areas to the cities. One hundred million people are unemployed. The income in rural areas is one-third of that in urban areas. On the other hand, the middle class is growing, the nation is increasingly trying to divert money to the rural areas, education is free in the rural areas, and the welfare system ensures that “no one starves in China.”
Construction Minister Wang Guantao: Focus on Becoming Energy'saving Society
Construction Minister Wang Guantao outlined his responsibilities and discussed his focus on China’s urgent need to build houses that save energy, land, water, and construction materials.China must build an “energy'saving society,” he emphasized.
Mr. Jin Xu, Commerce Ministry
Mr. Jin provided the perspective of the Commerce Ministry, describing major economic and commercial issues in China’s trade relationships. “Over the past twenty years,” he said, “China has had a nine percent increase in trade per year.”
The Deputy Director General discussed several areas in U.S. trade policy toward China that the Chinese government would like to change, including U.S. restrictions on exporting “long lists” of selected items to China. Mr. Jin expressed the hope that the U.S. will relax some of its restrictions, allowing an increase in U.S. export of technology and equipment to China.
The Beijing Committee for the 2008 Olympics
In the words of Executive Director Tom Cochran, the Olympics are a “happy event.”
The adopted logo for the 2008 Olympics is “One World One Dream.” Meeting with the USCM delegation, committee officials described their marketing program, construction plans, cultural and communications activities, and financial planning. They also showed a film, made to promote the 2008 Beijing Olympics which powerfully and colorfully captures the heart, spirit, and beauty of the games.
Conference President O’Neill said, “The 2008 Olympics in Beijing are certain to be one of the most successful, most organized, most exciting Olympics ever, not only for the world, but also for the sense of pride and renewal your own people will experience through this significant expression of your culture.”
Director General Feng Shusen, Administrative Bureau of Diaoyutal State Guesthouse, Ministry of Foreign Affairs
U.S. Mayors also met with Director General Feng Shusen, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, to gain information about the Diaoyutal State Guesthouse, where top officials from a variety of countries, including the United States, are received during state visits to China.