Witty Brown pitches California at Beijing event

“We are gonna forge the relationships, open the doors and let our private sector people, who are here, to make the deals.” California Governor Jerry Brown summed up the mission of his China visit in a short and relaxed Q&A session during a lunch forum organized by the American Chamber of Commerce at the Peninsula Hotel in Beijing on April 10.

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Brown, whose quippy remarks filled the room with laughter, sent out a clear message that the China-California relationship is one of his top priorities as Governor of California. “This trip would have come a couple of years ago,” said Brown, “But I inherited a 27 billion dollar deficit. I spent two years cleaning that up and we’ve got that pretty much covered. So now we want to focus on jobs, investment and improving the relationship between California and China.”

California is already a "world place", said Brown, with a third of the kids in school speaking a different language than English in their homes. “I believe a greater opening to China will be very fruitful.” He said he hopes to see as much as $ 60 billion of Chinese investment in California between now and 2020.

“We should find ways to understand and get along better. The more we get tied together in mutual dependency, the less likely we will be turned aside by our disputes,” Brown said. He also promised to cut through the red tape that put a barrier to investments in California. The business climate in California is better now, he assured the audience. “When I became governor, California had the worst credit rating of all 50 states. Today I can announce we are now the 49th. We are on our way.” Brown joked.

“He made a case for California.” said one member of the audience after the luncheon, which was heartily agreed by Scott Silverman, special counsel at Baker & Mckenzie, a US law firm based in Chicago, who enjoyed Brown’s humor very much. As a specialist in transportation, he pointed out that though the Governor did not mention the high-speed railway project, it is a highlight of his visit. “China’s high-speed railway is really the best in the world,” he said, “We really need something like that in the US. And California is the first to get started. ”

Before the lunch gathering, Sino-US.com talked to the attendees about their expectations of Brown’s visit.

Brent Cohen, managing director and general manager of Ybrant Digital’s China and Asia Pacific region who has been working in Beijing for over four years, told Sino-US.com that he has been looking forward to Governor Brown’s visit. “It’s been a long time since California has a trade mission here in China,” he said. “I’m very interested to hear what the Governor has to say.”

“I think it’s an exciting event,” said a lawyer from Baker & Mckenzie, who didn’t reveal his name. “California can use any type of capital inflow at the moment. Any type of job-creating investment is good. I am waiting to hear what they think about the opportunities (of bringing Chinese investment to California).”


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