Oakland Mayor Jean Quan was finally feeling the jet lag midday Monday after arriving Saturday in Beijing and embarking on a flurry of meetings with the Hainan Group and the American Chamber. But that didn’t stop her from finishing and posting her newsletter in the few hours of “down time” she will likely enjoy on the jam-packed trade mission to China with City Council President Larry Reid, Port of Oakland Executive Director Omar Benjamin and other port officials.
Quan is there to promote Oakland’s Port and city as a good place to do business. She’s talking to the Hainan Group about using Oakland as a hub to capitalize on the growing foreign tourism to Northern California.
Hainan Airlines is the Southwest of China, and the only five-star rated airline in the country. The parent company also owns hotels.
It’s clear that Chinese people are investing in the United States, Quan said, but she is “struck by the variety of investments” they are interested in.
As far as how people are responding to her as an elected representative of a major American city, she said it seems to have a special significance for older Chinese, who tell her how proud they are of her, Quan said in a call from Beijing Monday (late Sunday night, my time).
Quan is also building on relationships with the Port’s China partners. This trip represents her third meeting with China Merchants Holdings.
She said that the Chinese are more comfortable combining government and business, and her presence there could send the message that Oakland’s government is very much behind reciprocal business investments.
“We’re really learning how to market Oakland, not just the Port, but everything,” Quan said from Beijing. “The Chinese aren’t just interested in ships. I’d like to see if they are interesting in buying or building hotels. Nothing substitutes for talking to someone and feeling out the possibilities.
Next up: Shenzhen.