O’Neill Leads Breakthrough Mission To China – Shanghai, Chongqing, Beijing
Signs Accords with China Association of Mayors, Addresses Asia-Pacific Summit
By Kay Scrimger
October 31, 2005
U.S. Conference of Mayors President Long Beach Mayor Beverly O’Neill led a historic mission to the cities of Shanghai (pop. 16 million), Chongqing (pop. 31 million), and Beijing (pop. 15 million), China, October 7-15, 2005.
Other members of the O’Neill Mission were Conference Vice President Dearborn MI Mayor Michael A. Guido, Burnsville MN Mayor Elizabeth B. Kautz, Gary IN Mayor Scott L. King, San Bernardino CA Mayor Judith Valles, and Executive Director Tom Cochran.
The Mission to China is part of the continuing joint cooperative effort between The U.S. Conference of Mayors and the China Association of Mayors (CAM), which began in 1999. Its purpose is to foster and strengthen U.S.-China mayoral and local government relationships.
The U.S. Conference of Mayors and the China Association of Mayors convened the Fourth Sino-U.S. Mayors Summit in Chongqing, Tuesday, October 11, where they signed a Memorandum of Understanding. On Wednesday, October 12, Mayor O’Neill delivered a major address at the Keynote Session of the Asia Pacific Cities Conference, also held in Chongqing.
The U.S. delegation also visited Shanghai and Beijing, meeting with the Mayor of Beijing, officials of the Foreign, Construction, and Commerce Ministries of the People’s Republic of China in Beijing, and the Shanghai Vice Mayor in Shanghai.
Fourth U.S. Conference of Mayors-China Association of Mayors (Sino-U.S. Mayors) Summit
On October 11, in Chongqing, China, The U.S. Conference of Mayors and the China Association of Mayors convened the Fourth USCM.-China Association of Mayors Summit (also called the Sino-U.S. Mayors Summit.)
The USCM. delegation met with Madam Tao Siliang, China Association of Mayors Secretary General, and with the following Chinese mayors and vice mayors: Chongqing Mayor Wang Hongju, Chongqing Vice Mayor Tong Xioping, Yiwu Mayor Wu Weirong, Anyang Mayor Dong Yongan, Zhaoqing Deputy Mayor Huang Ling, Guang’an Mayor Yuan Xianfeng, and Hechuan Mayor Han Shuming.
In her welcoming remarks, Secretary General Madam Tao characterized her association’s relationship with the U.S. Conference of Mayors as one of the “most important priorities of the mayors of China. We highly value the sincerity between the two sides and our successful cooperation of the past six years,” she said.
Secretary General Tao pointed out that the investment of the Chinese government in its cities from 1998 to 2004 has been “unprecedented.” China’s goals for the next 15 years are to realize a strong society that is “well-off,” she said, with a prosperous economy, sound government, an improved rule of law, and a “harmonious society.”
Conference Executive Director Tom Cochran pointed out that in contrast to the Chinese government’s investment in cities, U.S. cities “must be advocates for everything we get.” “The U.S. Conference of Mayors was founded in 1932 during the Great Depression in order to articulate and push for the needs of local government. We continue to have to fight for support from state governments, county governments, the Congress,” he said.
Leading the morning session, O’Neill thanked the China Association of Mayors for hosting the summit and for the “cooperative relationship we enjoy with your association.”
O’Neill presented information about Long Beach, noting that “China is the leading trading partner for the Port of Long Beach, the fifth largest port in the world.” She described Long Beach’s exchanges and other cooperation with Chinese cities. O’Neill also sketched Long Beach’s transformation from its economic crisis in the mid-1990’s, occasioned by the loss of its U.S. naval base, to a more diversified and stronger economy today.
Sino-U.S. Mayors Focus on Key Methods to Bring About Economic Cooperation
Chinese and U.S. mayors alternately presented information about their cities’ economic and demographic makeup, major challenges, current and potential international economic cooperation, and their views about how to increase economic cooperation between U.S. and Chinese cities.
The discussion also focused on similarities and differences between the role of mayors in the United States and in China, in terms of responsibilities, funding sources, and challenges.
Executive Director Cochran questioned how much and through what methods mayors in China receive support from their national government. The Chinese mayors said that their cities receive about 20 percent of their resources from their government, about 50 percent from the private sector undertakings, and 30 percent from international organizations.
Guido stated that Dearborn is the world headquarters of Ford Motor company, a manufacturing center of steel and plastics, a national center of education and health care, a diverse population composed of more than eighty national cultures and languages spoken, a major tourist destination, and a city of strong international outreach, including to China, where Ford has offices.
“We are all members of a single community,” he emphasized, “and we look ahead to sharing ideas with the Chinese mayors here today.” Guido added, “As mayors, we play an important role in the globalization process.”
Kautz pointed out that her city of Burnsville, a relatively young city incorporated in 1964, is the eighth largest manufacturing center in the state of Minnesota, with ties to China through one company’s extended offices in Shanghai and other business and investment relationships.
She said that Burnsville faces a major challenge in terms of the need to change and improve its housing stock. She expressed the hope that through a variety of innovative ways, “together, our cities can work together to build stronger relationships and the ‘harmonious society’ about which Madam Tao has spoken.”
The Chinese mayors pointed out the rejuvenation of their cities and their efforts to become “internationalized cities for business and trade.” Chongqing Deputy Mayor Tong Ziaoping described the challenges of managing a city of 31 million people, of whom two-thirds are rural residents. Chongqing’s development efforts include poverty relief, resettlement of one million migrants, reform of state-owned enterprises, improvement transportation facilities, and ecological and environmental land environmental protection.
Anyang Mayor Dong focused on the importance of “Small and medium'sized enterprises (SMEs),” which, he said, “have become a main engine for world economic development, changing the modes of international production, investment and cooperation, and exerting impacts on the process of economic globalization.”
Zhaoqing Mayor Wu Weirong and his Deputy Mayor Huang Ling discussed culture and education as central to promoting international cooperation.
Hechuan Mayor Han Shuming described his city as a famous tourist site and gateway connecting Chongqing Municipality with the north Sichuan area and serving as Chongqing’s expanded center of capital and technological development.
The U.S. delegation had a special meeting at the end of the morning session and lunch with Mayor Wang Hongju.
Facilitated by Madam Tao, the afternoon session began with a presentation by Mayor Scott King. “Gary is celebrating its centennial next year, having been founded in 1906 by the United States Steel Corporation,” he said.
Mayor King outlined Gary’s efforts to improve the quality of life, through demolishing dangerous, unused buildings and clearing and cleaning old industrial sites and brownfields. New construction projects include a public safety facility and the U.S. Steel Yard. “We are also expanding the Gary-Chicago Airport into the Chicago area’s third major airport,” he said.
Judith Valles pointed out that San Bernardino has had major economic challenges, stemming in part from the closing of several major employers, such as Kaiser Steel. “We are recovering slowly,” she said, and “trying to grow the economy in order to realize a more sustainable society.”
Valles stated since 2002, the city government has been collaborating with one of their universities, training delegations to visit areas of China. “Education is critical to international relationships in this ‘century of cities,’” she emphasized.
Memorandum of Understanding Signed
In the culminating event of the Fourth Sino-U.S. Mayors Summit, the U.S. Conference of Mayors and the China Association of Mayors signed a Memorandum of Understanding pledging to “continue to develop their friendship and cooperative relationships with the goal of strengthening the contribution of their cities to the betterment of urban areas and their citizens in their own nation and throughout the world.” (See full text of Memorandum of Understanding in both Chinese and English below.)
President Beverly O’Neill Delivers Major Address to Asia Pacific Cities Summit in Chongqing
On Wednesday, October 12, at the Asia Pacific Cities Summit in Chongqing, Mayor Beverly O’Neill addressed the Keynote Session, whose theme was “Hand-in-Hand: Cooperation and Exchanges Between Asia-Pacific Cities.”
In her address President O’Neill focused on the following areas:
1. Increasing interdependence in an age of globalization, especially between the U.S. and China;
2. The challenge of change, and the impact of Hurricane Katrina; and
3. “Cities are the social, political, and economic engines of the new global economy”: U.S. Conference of Mayors Metro Economies studies, analyzing the economic contribution and importance of cities to national economies.
O’Neill shared the opening sessions of the Asia Pacific Cities Summit with Hiroshima, Japan Mayor Akiba Tadatoshi, the Lord Mayor of Brisbane Campbell Newman, Chongqing Mayor Wang Hongju, and Shanghai Mayor Han Zheng.
The Brisbane City Council of Australia initiated the Asia Pacific Cities Summit in 1996 in order to provide mayors, business and academic leaders, and others to gather to discuss fostering effective cooperation among cities of the Asia Pacific region. More than 80 cities and 1,000 participants took part in the meeting. Its 2001 Summit was held in Seattle. The 2005 Chongqing meeting was the first time the Summit had been held in China.
Summary of Mission to China
President O’Neill stated that, “The mission to China has proved to be very productive and beneficial, creating an even stronger relationship with the mayors of China. We are grateful to the China Association of Mayors, especially its Secretary General Madame Tao, for hosting our visit. “At the Fourth Sino-U.S. Summit, the discussion centered on a variety of urban issues, including housing, transportation, public safety, cultural and education, economic development, social services, migration to the city, the environment, attracting international trade and investment, and tourism. It was an exciting experience to see the growth of the understanding between the United States and the mayors of China. Our joint Memorandum of Understanding points the way to continued cooperation.”