It’s true what they say – until you’ve been to a World Expo, there is no fathoming its size. My first day at Shanghai EXPO 2010 it reached nearly 100 degrees Fahrenheit and set a record attendance at just under 600,000 visitors. Droves of people waited in line to get in to see the popular pavilions for more than 4-6 hours. This is not a typical trade show. I didn’t see a single vendor booth. The U.S. pavilion featured videos touting the spirit of the American people and the American companies that sponsored the pavilion. The gift shop was packed full of Chinese people seeking out Cowboy hats and U.S.A. pins and pens. Word to the wise – do not attempt EXPO in a business suit and heels.
The “Salute to Texas” week was kicked off on Tuesday, June 15th in the sweltering Shanghai heat I mentioned above. Texas Governor Rick Perry was pure fun and fan-fare for the swarms of Chinese citizens gathered around the outdoor stage to hear him speak. They also had a chance to see NASA astronauts, famed ropers, Texas musicians and high-fashion from NorthPark Center in Dallas.
The Dallas Regional Chamber joined other economic development institutions from around the State in promoting Texas’ assets to Chinese business executives at a State of Texas hosted luncheon following the opening ceremonies.
While the Chamber hosted meetings throughout the week to gain insight into the current business environment in Shanghai and throughout China (including a trip to TEDA in Tianjin, China), the highlight of the trip for the Chamber was an event held on Thursday, June 17th. Nearly 200 Chinese business and government officials joined the Chamber for a dinner celebrating opportunities for partnership for business success. As sponsor and attendee, Xinwei Zhang put it, “[The Chamber] not only provided the opportunity for nice food and amazing views from the balcony but also did the magic for the people to attend the event.” She continued, “One of the entrepreneurs invited by me found a perfect partner from the U.S. to boost his family business. Another assures me that he is going to send his son to U.S. colleges in Texas.”
The Dallas Regional Chamber is taking the long view on attracting Chinese investment to Dallas. We know that a relationship developed in China takes time but over time it will result in very good things for the region. The Chamber has been traveling to China for nearly ten years now. This dinner may have been the first of its kind, but it has taken these ten years to develop the relationships with the partners that allowed for its success.
The event’s principal sponsor, Jones Day’s Peter Wang added “Jones Day is pleased to be a primary sponsor of this event in China which allows us and the Texas delegation to highlight the benefits of investing in and doing business in Texas.” Wang’s counterpart in Dallas, George Manning continued, “Texas’s primary economic and business landscape are second-to-none for developing strategic business ties with China that will result in positive economic benefits for both regions. Jones Day is one of a few U.S. firms with a substantial presence in both China and Texas. We have vast experience with outbound investments out of China as well as inbound investments into the U.S. and Texas.”
The Chamber’s event could not have been successful without our fantastic sponsors and partners:
- U.S. Commercial Service at the U.S. Consulate in Shanghai
- CCPIT of Shanghai and Hunan
- Shanghai Overseas Investment Development Board
- State of Texas
- U.S.- China Federation of Industry and Commerce
- Nautilus Asia Pacific Management
- Shandong Department of Commerce
- University of Texas at Arlington EMBA program
The Chamber will continue to build on the foundation established nearly ten years ago. We set up a more formal presence through the partnership with Jones Day. The law firm hosts a virtual office for the Chamber at Jones Day’s Shanghai office in Kerry Center, established several years ago. With this event, we were able to begin settling into our new “home away from home” in Shanghai. We look forward to hosting new and old friends alike both in Shanghai and someday soon in Dallas.
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