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San Francisco mayor's visit good for ties

By HE WEIBAO | China Daily | Updated: 2024-04-20 08:59
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As one of the most important bilateral relationships in the world today, Sino-US ties, especially the way they develop, not only affect the well-being of the people in the two countries but also have a significant impact on the global political and economic landscape.

Sino-US relations, however, are not only about exchanges at the central or federal level, as exchanges between local governments in China and the United States play an important role in the development of bilateral ties.

Starting April 14, a US delegation led by San Francisco Mayor London Nicole Breed is paying a week-long visit to China, traveling to the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region; Shenzhen and Guangzhou in Guangdong province; and Shanghai and Beijing. Breed's visit not only reflects the friendly exchanges between the local governments in China and the US, but also shows there is huge potential for cooperation between the two sides.

According to the San Francisco government, Breed is visiting China for three main reasons: to stimulate the economic growth of San Francisco, to boost San Francisco's tourism industry, and to strengthen diplomatic and cultural relations between China and the US. These are indeed the main reasons for the exchanges between the local governments in China and the US, and they are of great significance.

First, exchanges between the local governments in the two countries do facilitate Sino-US economic and trade cooperation. As Breed said, San Francisco has many leading artificial intelligence and high-tech companies focusing on biotechnology, while Shenzhen has many enterprises involved in developing and dealing with AI, life sciences and biotechnology. Therefore, the two cities can learn from each other, and "the possibilities between us are infinite".

Economic cooperation between Chinese and US local governments will not only promote the development of both sides, but also lay a stable foundation for bolstering bilateral trade relations. The exchanges between the local governments will lead to deeper cooperation, providing more market access, creating more investment opportunities for the two countries' enterprises, and increasing employment on both sides.

Second, exchanges between the local governments will promote mutual understanding and friendship between the Chinese and American people, which in turn will facilitate the healthy and stable development of Sino-US relations.

However, since the Donald Trump administration defined China as the US' main strategic competitor in 2017, Washington has been rallying its allies and partners to contain China, hyping up the "China threat" theory and using human rights and the COVID-19 pandemic to smear Beijing, leading to deterioration in Sino-US relations.

Given these facts, strengthening exchanges between Chinese and US local governments will help people in the two countries to remove misunderstandings and help cultivate friendly feelings among the younger generation, thus facilitating the healthy development of Sino-US relations. Moreover, that California has the largest population of Chinese Americans among all US states, and the first China town in the US was established in San Francisco gives the city a unique advantage in boosting exchanges and strengthening cultural ties with Chinese cities.

During their visit to China, Mayor Breed and her delegation will meet with not only local officials, but also entrepreneurs and cultural figures, with the events being broadcast in San Francisco and other parts of the US. This will help more US nationals to develop a better understanding of the development status of and the living standards in China, thus breaking some Americans' stereotyped impression about China and promoting friendly exchanges between the two peoples.

Breed also wants to expand the tourism industry in San Francisco, which will not only promote the development of the local economy but also help increase people-to-people exchanges between the two countries, creating more opportunities for the two peoples to understand each other.

And third, the more local government exchanges expand, the more Sino-US tensions will defuse. It's true, Sino-US relations face many challenges including disputes on trade, science and technology, geopolitics and other fields. But it's also true that exchanges and cooperation between the local governments can help ease the tensions between the two countries.

Exchanges between local governments are driven more by pragmatic interests, which help the two sides to seek common ground while shelving their differences on some issues. And frequent interactions between the local governments of China and the US can help establish stable cooperative relations. Such relations will not only provide reference for the central or federal governments of the two countries, but also play a stabilizing role in bilateral relations.

In other words, Breed's visit to China is expected to have a positive impact on Sino-US ties. As such, both the US and China should encourage the local governments in their respective countries to increase such exchanges.

The author is an assistant researcher at the Institute of American Studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. The views don't necessarily reflect those of China Daily.

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