On August 23, 2017, the Seattle City Hall hosted a delegation from Hangzhou, China. The delegation consisted of 30 prominent government and business officials. Among others, the delegation included Hu Zhengyu, Deputy Secretary General of the General Office of the Communist Party of China and Director of the Hangzhou Municipal Government Research Center; Tao Xiaoying, Chairman of Santi Group Company Ltd.; and Liu Tian, Director of the Philadelphia Sino-US Cultural Exchange Center. They were welcomed by Mayor Ed Murray, Deputy Mayor Hyeok Kim, Director of International Business Development for Seattle Carlton Vann, and Washington State China Relations Council (WSCRC) Chair Andy Wilson. WSCRC President Mercy Kuo and several board members were also among the welcoming committee. Important industries such as tourism, technology, retail, investment, and e-commerce were highly represented.
The delegation follows Mayor Murray’s 2016 trip to Hangzhou, during which he signed a memorandum of understanding of economic partnership with his counterpart, promising increased cooperation in fields such as trade, science, and technology. Representatives from Amazon.com, Costco, Blue Nile, and the University of Washington joined the Mayor’s five-day visit. Alibaba, China’s biggest online retailer, is headquartered in Hangzhou. The two cities are both burgeoning hubs of commerce and technology.
China is Washington State’s top export market, importing $12 billion of goods from the state in 2016 alone — nearly twice that of Washington’s second largest export market, Canada. Exports to China supported 83,800 jobs in the state in 2015. Washington has received $684 million in Chinese FDI since 1990, and US FDI from Washington during the same period is $3.66 billion. In addition, Seattle has recently become the number one US market for Chinese homebuyers. China is an important part of Washington’s economy, and a significant market for exports. Expanding the relationship between Seattle and Hangzhou is a sensible step to increase cooperation.
Rebecca Chen is a research intern at the East-West Center and a graduate student at Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service.