April 5, 10:39 AM click here to comment > 5
Connecting Seattle to New Opportunities in Chongqing
Last week I returned from a short trip to Chongqing and Beijing, where I led a delegation of over 50 business and community leaders from Seattle to meet with companies and school officials to discuss areas of mutual cooperation, and to honor the longstanding sister-city relationship between our two cities. My trip, which was funded by the Trade Development Alliance and the City of Chongqing, focused on helping create new opportunities for Seattle residents in green innovation and education in one of the world’s fastest growing cities.
With so much new construction in Chongqing, there is increasing interest in sustainable and green building practices. I joined several Seattle-area leaders and spoke at a Green Build Conference about the thriving sustainable development industry in Seattle, in particular the under-construction Bullitt Center. With the large growth currently planned in Chongqing, the conference helped position Seattle companies to play a major role in the next wave of sustainable construction in China.
We also signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the City of Chongqing to encourage and support Chinese and American companies to cooperate in the implementation of sustainable urban design, energy-saving codes in new buildings, in the retrofitting of existing buildings, application of renewable energy and development of sustainable communities.
Education was another major focus of the trip. With representatives from Seattle Public Schools, the Confucius Institute and the OneWorld Now! global leadership program, we visited the Chongqing Education Commission and discussed strengthening educational partnerships between our cities. Currently three schools, Chief Sealth International High School, Denny International Middle School and Beacon Hill International School, have partnerships with schools in Chongqing. During this trip we signed a Memorandum of Understanding in Educational Cooperation between Seattle and Chongqing to expand those partnerships to three more Seattle schools – Cleveland High School, Mercer Middle School, and Pathfinder K-8 school. These partnerships help enhance language instruction in both countries and facilitate exchanges of students, teachers, and administrators so they can get experience in our respective countries.
In association with OneWorld Now!’s Seattle Strong Initiative, part of President Obama’s 100,000 Strong initiative, we also we have been able to nearly double the number of scholarships for underserved Seattle youth to study abroad this summer. After three weeks of intensive Mandarin classes here in Seattle, these students will travel to Chonqging for an additional three weeks, where they will continue their language classes, live with Chinese host families and participate in local service projects. We feel these scholarships represent a tremendous opportunity for our youth, both because they make these life-changing opportunities financially possible and because these experiences will help us develop our future global leaders.
We also visited two schools in Chongqing, Ren Min Primary School and Nan Kai Middle School. We got a great reception from the students there, who sang us songs and even played a little basketball with us. We gave them some souvenirs of Seattle, including this shirt:
Cultural exchange was another important element of the trip. Our delegation attended the ribbon cutting for the Seattle Garden at the Chongqing Garden Expo. Seattle has a beautiful garden that is the counterpart to our own Seattle Chinese Garden in West Seattle. The Expo is a huge complex featuring gardens representing cities and provinces across China and the world. It was also an opportunity to honor our Sister City relationship and thank Chongqing for their generous $1.2 million investment in the Seattle Chinese Garden, one of the largest Chinese gardens outside of Asia.
The last leg of the trip involved two days in Beijing, where I spoke at a clean tech conference that was hosted by the Trade Development Alliance of Greater Seattle, Northwest Energy Angels, the Washington Clean Tech Alliance and the Washington State China Relations Council. Along with representatives from Seattle’s leading energy efficiency companies, I encouraged attendees from several of China’s largest state-owned corporations to explore possible areas of partnership between companies.
China and the city of Chongqing will remain an important part of Seattle’s future. These new partnerships between our cities in green innovation and education will help connect Seattle residents to new opportunities in the global economy for years to come.
Photos by: Bill Stafford
Posted by: Mayor Mike McGinn