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Houston to deepen ties with cities

By He Qi in Shanghai | China Daily USA | Updated: 2017-12-16 05:51

Houston will explore more opportunities to cooperate with China in sectors such as energy, life sciences, manufacturing, logistics, real estate, business development and tourism, said the city's mayor Sylvester Turner.

"With its rapid economic development, China has become a major trade partner and a top priority for Houston to expand mutually beneficial economic and cultural engagement," said Turner, who together with the Greater Houston Partnership recently led an 80-member delegation to Shanghai.

This was Turner's first visit to the city since he was elected mayor of Houston in 2015. The delegation spent eight days in China visiting cities including Shanghai, Beijing and Shenzhen.

Houston is the largest city in southern United States and the most populous one in the US state of Texas with a population of around 2.3 million. The city is known for its new energy, life science and manufacturing industries.

In 1986, Houston signed a sister city agreement with Shenzhen, Guangdong province, before establishing friendly relations with Shanghai in 2015. Turner noted that the city honored Yao Ming - the famous Chinese basketball player born in Shanghai that used to play for the Houston Rockets - by appointing him as the Goodwill Ambassador in 2013.

"Houston and China have benefitted from a strong relationship for many years," said Bob Harvey, President and CEO of the Greater Houston Partnership. "China is Houston's second largest trade partner, Houston-China trade has more than tripled since 2005, and we view this trip as incredibly important to build on our already mutually-beneficial relationship."

According to official statistics, trade between China and Houston in 2016 was $18.4 billion, up from $9.1 billion in 2010. Sixteen Chinese firms presently operate 18 subsidiaries in the Houston area, including COSCO, CNOOC, Honghua Group and TPCO.

Houston is also the city experiencing the fastest growth in the US. A sophisticated supervision system, low operation costs, a dynamic workforce comprising young and educated people, as well as an efficient supply chain and transportation network are the main factors attracting Chinese investors, said Turner.

"We have the largest Chinatown with a mature Chinese community in the US and our real estate is popular among Chinese investors," he added.

According to Turner, more than 65,700 people living in the Houston metro area were born in China and nearly 100,000 residents are of Chinese descent. Houston's flourishing Chinese community makes the city feel like home for many Chinese visitors, he added.

Turner revealed that the city is planning to cooperate with Chinese authorities on a medical center project in Shenzhen, and that more students from Shenzhen will be able to go on exchange in institutions in Houston.

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