San Francisco continues to extend a warm hand to the flush-with-cash Chinese business community. That was in evidence Tuesday at City Hall, where a delegation of more than 100 investors and government officials attended a celebration intended to further solidify economic ties with The City.
And while the event itself was largely ceremonial, it put on display the efforts of Mayor Ed Lee, San Francisco’s first Chinese-American mayor, to attract local investment from the world’s largest economy.
The delegation — Chinese government commerce and trade officials, and 40 companies from various provinces including banks, auto manufacturers, import/exporters, construction engineers and real estate developers — was led by China’s Vice Minister of Commerce Wang Chao and greeted by Lee and Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom as part of a seminar on economic and trade cooperation.
Wang spoke of potential Chinese investment in local new energy, biomedicine, bioscience, electronics, IT, environmental protection, agriculture, high-end manufacturing and especially, infrastructure projects. He added that in his many visits to San Francisco, he’d never before seen as much “desire for cooperation” and as many opportunities for Chinese companies.
“They have been closely following the projects in city development, in airport and seaport renovation, and real estate and high-speed railways,” he said.
A nonbinding agreement promising “information exchange” and “investment promotion activities” was signed Tuesday with ChinaSF, a city-private partnership promoting business ties with China.
Mayor Lee laid a historical groundwork for the relationship, noting the settlement in San Francisco by Chinese beginning in the 1800s that led to the formation of the country’s largest and oldest Chinatown.
“Whether it was for economic opportunity or search of gold, it’s very interesting to note that today, we are of course seeing our contemporaries coming to invest and look for partnerships, opportunities here in the United States and in San Francisco,” Lee said. “It’s a very nice twist.”
Lee promised the delegation a “great” and “intelligent” conversation “that hopefully will discuss the many more ways that we can not only do business, but to work together to solve the world’s problems.”
The delegation has also been meeting with state officials in an effort to boost ties throughout California.
Newsom spoke of a new “hyper-connected,” globalized world, and of California’s history of entrepreneurship, world-class universities and leadership in business.
“We’re proud of this state, but we also recognize we have challenges, and we need to lean in to the world we are living in,” Newsom said. “And this, today, is an example of leaning in.”