Fujian: Oregon's Sister State in China

By State Representative Jules Bailey (D-Portland).


I recently returned from almost two weeks in China to celebrate the 25th Anniversary of Oregon's Sister State relationship with China's Fujian Province, and to promote economic ties between Oregon and China.

The trip, which cost no taxpayer dollars, was also a chance for us to connect on renewable energy to attract investment in Oregon and build markets for Oregon companies, as well as to help link the Port of Portland to shippers and ports in China, particularly Tianjin. On the trip were nine legislators, including Speaker Hunt, and a mix of business and Port of Portland representatives. Port director Bill Wyatt joined us for most of the trip.

Even though I have been to China many times before, I was most struck by the scale of development and amount of new wealth. In Beijing, street after street had high-end shopping malls and restaurants. Gone were many of the older buildings and small shops. No longer were the brand name stores just for foreign tourists. Instead, there is clearly an enormous number of local Chinese who have substantial disposable income to spend on luxuries. To be sure, there are many areas of immense poverty and we were only in the nicer areas, but it was a big change from the China I remember of even a few years past.

In the City of Tianjin, they are building a brand new city from scratch. Imagine Portland's South Waterfront development literally more than a thousand times over. All of this development is carefully planned and managed, and there is enormous demand for the land and infrastructure. They recently completed a bullet train from Beijing to Tianjin, which we had a chance to ride, that runs at over 200 mph and is smooth, comfortable, and accessible to the average commuter. It makes our investments in high-speed rail seem like small first steps.

Yet despite all this wealth and development, I was also struck by how top Chinese officials openly discussed their dismal environmental record and the challenge of global climate change. The Chinese leadership has put confronting climate change at the top of their priority list. They are open about the fact that they are still building about one new coal plant on average every couple weeks, but they seem to want to find a way to balance their growth and development challenge with sustainability. It will require a strong partnership to hold them to it, and it will require the U.S. to lead by doing its part as well.

We can continue partnership and engagement by promoting foreign language study, especially Mandarin, here in Oregon, and by setting up ways for our students to get direct experience in China. Our delegation had a chance to engage with the Confucius Institutes in China, which help coordinate and fund Mandarin education outside China, and we left with a bipartisan group of legislators committed to making Oregon the leader in Mandarin education. Not only will it prepare our students to succeed in a global economy, it also sends a strong signal to our Chinese partners that Oregon is part of an important relationship.

  • mp97303 (unverified)

    Forgive my ignorance on this topic, but if no taxpayer funds were used, who paid for the trip?

  • Peri Brown (unverified)

    Yet despite all this wealth and development, I was also struck by how top Chinese officials openly discussed their dismal environmental record and the challenge of global climate change.

    And, no doubt, if asked, they would attribute that to population pressure. Kudos at their realization and trying to reduce their footprint.

    So, where does that put US debate? They're ahead of Oregon in significant areas. A Chinese state is more progressive on green issues than America's arguably greenest state? Again, what does that say about the US?

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    I know at least some of the participants used campaign funds.

  • Jules L.K. Bailey (unverified)

    I paid for the trip myself out of a lot of personal and some campaign funds.

  • Steve Rosenbaum (unverified)

    I am delighted to see this global focus from Rep. Bailey on BlueOregon! Increasing Mandarin education in Oregon would be a very wise investment for our state.

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    Rep. Bailey, thanks for this trip report and for your leadership on these issues.

  • Banal Retentive Blog (unverified)

    This gets 6 responses and manufactured outrage at talking heads' stat of the day gets 80. Tells 'ya pretty much everything about this site.

    If Huffington Post started state by state sections, there would be no reason to click here. That would concern me, if I were managing BO.

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