This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Nov. 30, 2012 - Former U.S. Sen. Christopher “Kit” Bond, R-Mo., and St. Louis County Executive Charlie Dooley are leading another trade mission to China that is billed as a way to give “the region’s institutions unparalleled access to Chinese decision makers.”
An announcement by the World Trade Center St. Louis said the trip “expands opportunities in Asia and fosters job growth in Missouri.”
The local entourage appears to be the largest making such a trip since the unsuccessful attempts in 2011 and earlier this year to persuade the General Assembly to approve incentives aimed at promoting the development of a cargo hub for Chinese imports at Lambert-St. Louis International Airport.
Representatives of the Midwest China Hub Commission are among those on the trip, which began Thursday. The commission’s chairman is Dan Mehan, chief executive of the Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
The entourage also includes Handy Williamson, vice provost for international programs at the University of Missouri-Columbia; I-Shen Chen with Nestle-Purina, Jack Kirkland with Washington University, and Richard Zhai with Novus. The trip’s organizers include the former senator’s firm, Kit Bond Strategies.
According to the group’s announcement, “The delegation of business, educational and elected leaders will expand the St. Louis region's growing global footprint and enhance relationships with China.”
The trip was to begin in Hangzhou, billed as a “financial and industry hub,” where the local delegation – including “more than a dozen businesses and two universities” – was to participate in the 5th U.S.-China Transportation Forum. The event was jointly organized by the U.S. Department of Transportation and the Chinese Ministry of Transport.
“The previous U.S.-China Transportation forum was hosted in St. Louis,” the local group noted, adding that the St. Louis World Trade Center and civic activists since then “have worked to strengthen ties with transportation heads in both nations.”
Bond was slated to address the forum, along with Mike Brown of Burns and McDonnell, an international engineering, architecture, and consulting firm based in Kansas City.
The delegation’s next stop is to be Shanghai, China’s shipping center, where the Sino-American Logistics Conference is to be underway.
The group then was to travel to Nanjing, sister city for the city St. Louis; and the capital city of Beijing.