The Long Beach-Qingdao Association celebrated the beginning of its 30th year last week by introducing China’s new Consul General to Los Angeles, Ambassador Liu Jian. (click here for photos)
LBQA is one of six sister city associations in Long Beach, and may be the most active. Last year, the group participated in Qingdao’s Horticulture Expo, and in 2012 it helped the port city prepare to host the sailing events of the summer Olympics.This partnership also is key because of the importance of trade with China. Noel Hacegaba, chief commercial officer at the Port of Long Beach, said that nearly two-thirds of the port’s trade is with China, and the value of trade with the Port of Qingdao alone is worth $7 billion a year.
“Our ports connect us as people as well as countries,” Mayor Robert Garcia said to open the luncheon Friday at the Keesal, Young & Logan executive dining room. “Our sister cities reflect the multicultural aspect of our city.”
Harbor Commission President Doug Drummond was the featured speaker, and opened by comparing a trip he took to Qingdao in 1992 when he was on the City Council with a visit there last year.
“When I went to Qingdao in 1992, China was on a bicycle,” Drummond said. “The city was small and poor, but clean. Now, China is in an automobile. They are in the 21st Century, and are in a city building race.
“When I was in Qingdao last year, the transformation was just unbelievable. I am so pleased with the direction of China, and the direction of our port.”
Drummond pointed out that this year will be the 10th anniversary of the Green Port initiative, and said that air pollution had been reduced by 82% in that time. He said China has requested visits to share clean technology methods here as well as cutting-edge elder care — an increasing need there as well as here.
Ambassador Liu Jian noted that official relations between China and the United States have existed for only 36 years.
“Those have not been quiet years in the world,” Liu Jian said. “There has been domestic change, and our two countries have changed as well. I want to praise the vision and courage of the leadership that has guided our relations, and I rely on our common ground to keep our relations on the right track.”
Liu Jian acknowledged that most of the connection between China and the United States is an economic one, but argued that relationship is critical for both sides. He said the two countries’ economies are more closely intertwined than ever before, requiring vision and cooperation.
“Our two countries are the two greatest world economies,” he said. “We have a pressing need to work together in all areas; we have shared interests and responsibilities. We need a more reliable and predictable environment to insure a better life for the Chinese people and peace and prosperity in the world…
“I am very happy to be working here at a time when our relations are the best in history. We are important partners not just in trade, but in education and welfare. Friendship organizations like this one are a great opportunity to continue that.”
Next up for the Long Beach Qingdao Association is celebration of the Chinese New Year, to take place next month in partnership with the Port of Ling Beach and the Culinary Program at Long Beach City College.