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Diplomacy in Action

2013 U.S.-China Govenors Forum

Reta Jo Lewis
Special Representative for Global Intergovernmental Affairs 
Luncheon Hosted by the Chinese People's Association for Friendship With Foreign Countries (CPAFFC)
Beijing, China
April 15, 2013


Thank you for that kind introduction.

Good afternoon distinguished Madam Li and guests. I would like to express my appreciation to the Chinese People’s Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries (CPAFFC) for hosting us today at the 2013 U.S.-China Governors Forum. We look forward to productive exchanges between U.S. governors and Chinese provincial leaders on economic and trade issues and environmental management.

Let me extend a special recognition to Governor Terry Branstad of Iowa, a longtime friend of China, Governor Bob McDonnell of Virginia, and Governor Scott Walker of Wisconsin who traveled a long way to be here with us today. I also would like to extend a special welcome to the Governors of Fujian, Guangxi, Hebei and Helongjiang. We are delighted that you are here with us today.

When we speak about our countries, it is easy to fall into the habit of talking about our capital cities. When we say that “Beijing” and “Washington, DC” are working together, we typically mean the countries as a whole.

We all know, however, that the work of nations also takes place at the subnational level – the states, the provinces, and the cities.

As Secretary of State John Kerry’s Special Representative for Global Intergovernmental Affairs, I am proud to be here representing both “Washington, DC” and America’s subnational governments, all of whom are interested in fostering better relations with China’s provinces and cities.

One of the real highlights for me during my three years as Special Representative has been the development of the U.S.-China Subnational Initiative. The Memorandum of Understanding creating this initiative was signed in January 2011 by then-Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and then-Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi.

Since then, we have witnessed a historic level of engagement at the subnational level, including dialogues and exchanges like the U.S.-China Governors Forum and this event that provide many opportunities to strengthen bilateral ties and build mutual understanding.

For example, just this week we are witnessing California Governor Jerry Brown’s successful Trade and Investment Mission to China which included stops in Beijing, Nanjing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, and Shenzhen. This trip followed more than a year of significant diplomatic and business exchanges between the State of California and China. While in China, Governor Brown has met with Chinese central and provincial officials, opened the California-China Office of Trade and Investment in Shanghai, and signed agreements with Jiangsu and Guangdong Provinces.

U.S.-China ties are richer and more extensive than ever before. Bilateral cooperation and dialogue have moved beyond traditional diplomacy into the fields of economic and commercial engagement.

Moreover, our people-to-people ties remain strong. Over 200,000 Chinese students study in U.S. universities each year – the largest number of students from any country. We are proud that Chinese students choose to invest in a U.S. education. The interactions between students and teachers will pay dividends for decades to come, helping Americans and Chinese forge ever closer bonds between individuals, communities, businesses, universities, and even government.

The further we deepen our relationship, the more we need to bring into play the skills and energies of partners beyond our central and federal governments.

I believe that engagement at the local level will continue to offer an exciting and effective method for Americans to discuss issues of mutual concern with Chinese provincial officials.

I look forward to continued collaboration with our Chinese friends to further enhance existing relationships and to foster new relationships to facilitate greater understanding between our two great nations.

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