BEIJING, CHINA -- If a busy agenda is any sign of the deals that will be sealed over the next ten days, then California's formal trade and investment mission to China will be a huge success.
More than 100 delegates, staff, and top advisers to Gov. Jerry Brown arrived Monday afternoon in China's capital city after a 12 hour flight from San Francisco and up to a three hour commute from Beijing International through rush hour traffic in to the central city. Brown himself arrives late Tuesday afternoon, having celebrated his 75th birthday on Sunday with family and friends in California.
By early Tuesday morning, the business of generating more business had begun. Delegates heard detailed discussions about what to expect when it comes to inking deals with Chinese partners, but were nonetheless urged along by the governor's team, all eager to add some new heft to the state's economic relationship with one of its historically biggest trading partners.
"If you look at the fact that China's going to be doing significant foreign investments over the next ten years, we want to make sure that we are in front of the people that are going to making those decisions," said Mike Rossi, the governor's top economic and business adviser.
Delegates paid $10,000 apiece to spend the next week and a half meeting Chinese officials, entrepreneurs, and investors. And they wasted no time; by mid-Tuesday morning, with formal events just beginning, small groups of people speaking English and Chinese could be seen huddling outside of the presentations. Several delegates said they had set up their own meetings with Chinese companies to coincide with the busy schedule of formal events.
A study by the Asia Society argues that California could attract as much as $60 billion in Chinese direct foreign investment by the year 2020. And the Golden State has long been the biggest U.S. trading partner with China.
Brown's top advisers are all expected to be in attendance this week, including the chair of California's high-speed rail authority. And the governor, in addition to leading some of the business discussions, has a busy schedule of formal meetings with Chinese officials, including the signing of formal agreements with both the national government and with the top officials of some Chinese provinces.
In fact, that formal schedule has led to some last minute shuffling by Brown's team and organizers from the Bay Area Council, the business nonprofit that is sponsoring the China trade mission. On Monday, the governor's staff announced that Brown will be meeting with China's Premier Li Keqiang on Wednesday. That meeting then reshuffled the governor's travels on the high speed rail train to Shanghai, and pushed back a visit to the Chinese city of Nanjing.
News10 is the only television station here in China with the governor, and one of only three California news organizations on the trade mission. Stay tuned for more dispatches, including my postings on Twitter.