Los Angeles Encapsulates the Ideal China Story
By Qiu Shaofang Consul General of China in LA
（From Chinese Consulate General in Los Angeles）
Consul General Qiu Shaofang contributed a piece on Vice President Xi Jinping's visit to Los Angeles and the fasting changing China-LA relations. The article appeared on China Daily USA on February 17, 2012.
Los Angeles encapsulates the ideal China story
By Qiu Shaofang Consul General of China in LA
In 1932, Liu Changchun became the first athlete to represent China at the 1932 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles. Fifty-two years later, another Chinese athlete - Xu Haifeng - won the first gold medal for China at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympic Games.
Today, China's connection with Los Angeles involves much more than just sports. The China-US relationship has become one of the most important and dynamic relationships in the world.
The two countries are each other's second largest trade partner. China has also become the US' fastest growing export market.
The City of Angels has been an eyewitness to the fast-changing China-US relationship. According to United States International Trade Commission (USITC) statistics, the total amount of imports and exports of the Los Angeles Customs District in 2010 is $337.4 billion, 42 percent of which is related to China.
Despite the current world economic downturn, Chinese investment in Los Angeles has shown strong momentum for growth. More than 160 Chinese companies have set up offices in Los Angeles.
In the past few years, the Chinese automaker BYD opened its US headquarters in Los Angeles creating 150 new jobs and clean electric vehicles to the city. Shenzhen New World Group purchased Downtown Marriott and Universal Sheraton, creating another 700 jobs.
China Shipping Group started its Far East-US West Coast service in December 1999 and signed a lease agreement with the Port of Los Angeles, at which China Shipping would lease a terminal for 25 years.
The China terminal is now known as the first Green Terminal in the US as well as in the world. China Shipping's vessels that call at this terminal are specially retrofitted to use Alternative Maritime Power, which is a shore-based power supply for a ship's use when it is docked and has its auxiliary engines and generators shut down. This has significantly reduced emissions of hazardous marine exhaust into the air. Container yard equipment is run on propane, a clean energy source, instead of diesel fuel.
Currently, China Shipping Terminal offers permanent jobs to nearly 500 employees and longshoremen. And it has created almost 10,000 jobs directly and indirectly in the US.
As the "entertainment capital of the world," Los Angeles has much to offer to Chinese tourists. Disneyland, Universal Studios and Hollywood are household names in China.
In 1932, it took Liu Changchun nearly one month to sail from Shanghai to Los Angeles. Nowadays, more than 9,000 people are traveling across the Pacific every day. Last year, more than 3 million visits were made between the two countries.
Los Angeles provides the perfect gateway to China. There are six daily flights between the Chinese mainland and LA.
As a diplomat who has lived and worked in this country for more than a decade, I find it most gratifying to learn that the Chinese culture is taking root in the US. The Bowers Museum currently exhibits "Warriors, Tombs, and Temples: China's Enduring Legacy", which features the famous terra cotta warriors. The archaeological excavations provide a window into the incredible accomplishments of three of the most formative dynasties in Chinese history: the Qin, the Han and the Tang.
These impressive cultural exchanges will help the US public better understand my country.
The Chinese Lunar New Year celebrations are also getting more popular in Los Angeles and beyond. Chinese lanterns, couplets, "fu" characters, paper-cuts and other Spring Festival decorations can be seen on the streets of many local communities. With the display of China calligraphy, painting, lion dancing, folk songs and folk music performances, the Chinese New Year celebrations bring joy and happiness to people of all backgrounds.
China's rapid development has brought enormous opportunities for the US. As a result, more American students are learning Chinese. In Southern California alone, the number of schools which offer Chinese classes has reached 180. Chinese language and culture classes are all the rage. I recently visited a local high school that has around 800 students. Nearly 200 of them are learning Chinese.
The hard work of American students is paying off. In April of last year, two students from the UCLA Confucius Institute won the first and second prize of the world finals of the Chinese language contest in China. Also, the number of American students who apply for Chinese government scholarships is on the rise.
In 2008, only five students won the government scholarship in Southern California, New Mexico, Arizona and Hawaii that the Chinese consulate in LA covers. However, that number rose to 32 last year. In the meantime, many Chinese students and visiting scholars have come to Los Angeles to further their studies. Last fall, USC recruited nearly 1,000 students from China.
At the invitation of US Vice-President Joe Biden, Chinese Vice-President Xi Jinping is paying an official visit to the US, which aims at further implementing an important consensus reached by the leaders of the two countries to establish a cooperative partnership based on mutual respect and mutual benefit.
This visit is of great importance for enhancing strategic mutual trust, expanding bilateral cooperation and promoting the sound and stable development of China-US ties.
At the last leg of his visit, Vice-Xi will mingle with the American public in Los Angeles, which is playing an increasingly important role in China-US relations. The visit will provide Angelenos a chance to get to know the Chinese leader. No doubt, it will also strengthen friendly exchanges and cooperation between China and Los Angeles.
The China story in Los Angeles continues.
The author is China's consul general to Los Angeles.