LEXINGTON, United States – Chinese and US governors have voiced their willingness to enhance cooperation at the sub-national level, and called for more efforts to boost exchanges in various fields, striking a more optimistic and practical tone than that at the national level.
At the just-concluded Fifth China-US Governors Forum, Chinese and US governors gathered in Lexington, amid an ongoing trade dispute, to promote trade and investment, and strengthen people-to-people exchanges.
"We want to have a strong partnership with the people of China," Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin said when addressing the opening ceremony at the Lexington Convention Center.
"We have 9,000 people in Kentucky working for Chinese-owned companies and hundreds have been added just in recent months ... I want thousands more," said Bevin, whose state hosted the three-day event.
Cyrus Habib, lieutenant governor of the US state of Washington, told Xinhua that Washington is the largest exporter to China among all 50 states, and China is Washington's number one export country. "Our relationship with China is absolutely key ... to the success that we have had.”
Liu Guozhong, governor of northwest China's Shaanxi province, said "the best way to benefit our people is to increase cooperation" not only in economy and trade, but also in environmental protection, culture and tourism, as well as scientific and technological innovation.
When China is strong, it is good for America. When America is strong, it is good for China.
Matt Bevin, Governor, Kentucky
The National Governors Association (NGA), one of the forum's organizers, said in a statement that about 400 people from both countries attended the event. "This shows strong interest in forging and maintaining strong relationships at the sub-national level for the mutual benefit of the United States and China," it said.
The forum, co-hosted by the NGA, the Chinese People's Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries and the China General Chamber of Commerce-USA (CGCC), features dialogues on business, culture, education and others.
Chinese and US companies signed three cooperation agreements at the forum on Thursday. Meanwhile, China's southeastern province of Jiangxi and the US state of Kentucky signed a memorandum of understanding.
Chinese Ambassador to the US Cui Tiankai said local-level cooperation between the two countries is a "bright spot" in bilateral relations and will become a new driver for bilateral cooperation.
Cui added that he hopes "positive factors at local levels will triumph over the negatives in certain areas."
BILATERAL TIES BELONG TO PEOPLE
When Bill Lee, governor of the US state of Tennessee, found he was sitting next to Tang Liangzhi, mayor of China's Chongqing Municipality, at the opening ceremony, he immediately texted his surprise to his son, who once lived in Chongqing while attending university.
Lee said that exchanges on multiple levels "will enhance the opportunity for us to work together on things that are mutually beneficial."
Tang, in his remarks, cited a famous Chinese proverb that "friends and neighbors become closer when they visit each other more often," and invited American friends to visit Chongqing.
Former Missouri Governor Bob Holden, who has traveled to China many times, told Xinhua what struck him most is the "wonderful" people he met in China who want their children to have a better opportunity than they have, "which is the very same value system that we have in ... the heartland of the United States."
"It's important that we continue to ... connect our educational system, our students with the students from China so that they can, at a young age, get to understand both cultures.”
Wu Fulin, executive vice president of Bank of China, told Xinhua that local governments and businesses of both countries have shown a strong wish for cooperation at the forum, and there are broad areas for cooperation for both sides. "Efforts should be made to bring multi-level and diversified dialogue and exchange channels into full play," he said.
"We have been more convinced than ever before that the China-US relationship belongs to our people and its future should be defined by the people," Ambassador Cui said.
The ambassador's view was echoed by Bevin, who, in his closing remarks, said that suspicion and misunderstanding go away "when people talk, when people trade, when people cross cultures by going to schools in one place or the other."
‘UNITED WE STAND, DIVIDED WE FALL’
Officials and businessmen at the forum believed that the current disruption in bilateral trade is a temporary setback, and expressed their hope that the United States and China could soon reach a win-win trade deal.
"There's no governor in America ... that does not want these agreements to be done and done soon," said Bevin, adding that the trade dispute is hurting companies because of the uncertainty.
The Kentucky governor said he believes that the trade dispute will be resolved, and a quick settlement to the trade dispute will be better for both countries.
Habib stressed that mutual respect is needed "at the heart of any negotiation."
A trade deal, the lieutenant governor of Washington said, should help both sides have a good long-term understanding about trade dynamics, renew and refresh the rules of engagement, and make sure that "to the best of our abilities, we facilitate imports and exports."
Bevin said that the two governments need to make sure that the trade agreement is "proper" and "solid," and that both sides "get something and give something," adding that it should be able to last for years to come.
The state motto of Kentucky is "united we stand, divided we fall." Bevin used it in reference to China-US relations: "When one side wins, the other side wins. When China is strong, it is good for America. When America is strong, it is good for China."
HONG KONG NEWS