As the United States and China continue to build stronger government-to-government ties, there is a growing awareness in both countries that increased cooperation at the subnational level will strengthen our bilateral relationship and benefit both our countries. At the second round of the Strategic and Economic Dialogue in May 2010, the United States and China pledged to enhance bilateral economic cooperation at the subnational levels.
U.S. subnational leaders have been actively engaged in China for the past 10 years. In 2010 alone, there were at least eight governors who led trade delegations to China and more than 100 visits by various Chinese provincial officials to the United States. U.S. and Chinese state and local governments have established numerous cooperative relationships, from 36 sister provinces and states and 161 pairs of sister-cities to university exchanges to EcoPartnerships on energy and environmental cooperation.
Initiative to Strengthen U.S.-China Subnational Cooperation: To build on and strengthen the efforts of these subnational leaders, the Department of State, through the Office of the Special Representative for Global Intergovernmental Affairs (S/SRGIA), the U.S. Mission in China, and the Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs (EAP), is helping states and municipalities to increase and deepen economic, cultural, and educational ties with China. This initiative seeks to develop a platform to provide structure for engagement, allow deeper and more comprehensive dialogue and exchange, and produce tangible and enduring benefit for states, provinces, and cities. With these exchanges, state and local governments will not only be able to share ideas and best practices and advance their own interests through increased trade and investment, but they will also be advancing the priorities of the United States.
The U.S.-China Governors Forum: During President Hu’s visit, the U.S. and Chinese governments will officially endorse the subnational initiative. Secretary Clinton and Foreign Minister Yang will sign a Memorandum of Understanding Concerning the Establishment of a U.S.-China Governors Forum to Promote Subnational Cooperation. This U.S.-China Governors Forum will be co-convened by the National Governors Association (NGA) and the Chinese People’s Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries. It will serve as a platform to promote peer-to-peer exchanges between U.S. state governors and Chinese provincial party secretaries and governors on topics of mutual interest such as trade and investment, energy and the environment, and people-to-people exchanges in the fields of tourism, education, and others as appropriate. In February 2011, the Party Secretary of Hunan province will lead a delegation to the NGA’s winter meeting in Washington, D.C.
The U.S. Departments of Commerce and Treasury are partnering with the National League of Cities on a complementary initiative to promote subnational cooperation. This U.S. China Metro Growth Initiative is focused on sharing best practices on issues such as local economic growth and development and will take place in Seattle, WA in late April.