World / Reporter's Journal

San Francisco Mayor Lee has earned new term

By Chang Jun (China Daily USA) Updated: 2015-11-10 04:59

The news that Ed Lee was reelected mayor of San Francisco on Nov 3 came as no surprise to people in the Bay Area.

The son of an impoverished Chinese immigrant couple, and the first Chinese-American mayor in San Francisco's history, is expected to continue to play an important role in advancing the China-Bay Area relationship across a wide spectrum of areas.

San Francisco Mayor Lee has earned new term

Since Lee became mayor of San Francisco in 2011, he has spared no effort in facilitating a more vigorous and dynamic two-way exchange between China and San Francisco. He has led several business delegations on tours to major Chinese cities, including Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou, to tout his city as a land of "golden opportunity" for Chinese investors in real estate, high-tech, clean energy and other sectors.

To further cement the already solid relationship with China, Lee continues to send goodwill messages to China and take concrete steps to open his city to the influx of Chinese investment. He hailed the opening of branch offices in San Francisco by the Bank of Communications, the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China and Wing Lung Bank in 2011, 2012 and 2014 respectively, saying he "applauded the correct, important strategic decisions" those Chinese banks had made.

He attended ceremonies to celebrate the inaugural flight of United Airlines' direct service between Chengdu in Sichuan province and San Francisco in June 2014, and China Southern's first-ever non-stop service between San Francisco and Guangzhou, capital of Guangdong province, in June 2015.

"San Francisco is happy to welcome the first nonstop flights between San Francisco and Guangzhou, evidence of the growing economic and cultural connection between the Guangdong province and the San Francisco Bay Area," said Mayor Lee. "I am grateful to China Southern for the vision they demonstrated during our meeting in China, and for their commitment to making this new nonstop service a reality."

Through his unswerving efforts over the years, a burgeoning Chinese presence has started to transform San Francisco's cultural, economic and demographic landscape. To date, there are more than 150 Chinese enterprises operating on the West Coast in a variety of fields, including real estate, biology, pharmaceuticals, chemistry, clean energy and high tech.

Mandarin-speaking tourists and investors stroll along the sidewalks of the city, participating in the local economy. Martial arts practitioners stretch at Golden Gate Park. Exhibitions and Chinese cultural events draw huge crowds. Restaurants now offer authentic Chinese cuisine on their menus, specializing in Sichuan spicy and Huaiyang style dishes. Downtown department stores feature Mandarin-speaking salespeople and signage.

Following Mayor Lee's lead, California Governor Jerry Brown also conducted many business trips to China sending the same message. "We're going to facilitate billions of dollars of investments. Not overnight, but over time," he said.

Luo Linquan, Consul-General in the Chinese Consulate General in San Fransico, congratulated Lee the day after his landslide re-election.

"In the past four years, you've proven yourself to be a great mayor loved by the people of the great city of San Francisco, not only because of your achievements in developing the economy and reducing the unemployment rate, but also because of your consideration for the low-income class by increasing more affordable housing," Luo wrote in his congratulatory letter.

For Lee, his focus on jobs and business growth sent the city's unemployment numbers tumbling from a high of 8.9 percent in January 2011 down to 3.2 percent in September 2015, one of the lowest rates in the US.

As a gateway for China's entrance into the US, San Francisco has been and is still playing an irreplaceable role in the China-US relationship. The rapid development in the high-tech cooperation between China and San Francisco is a good example and will benefit both our peoples, said Luo.

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