Now that they’re land owners in Podunk (and maybe one day taxpayers!), the Chinese government is keeping a closer eye on its investment. Prince Rupert was host to a delegation from the Chinese consulate in Vancouver last week. They toured the city, explored the museums, looked at our port project and immersed themselves in the culture of the city.
They also spent some quality time with our local politicians, learning of our ways, our dreams and our immediate needs. Something to do with employment I believe was the underlying theme of our side of the conversation. From the pulp mill to the port, partnership was the word of the day. And while the Vancouver office doesn’t set the timeline on the mill, the Consular staff now apparently has a better idea about the mill’s importance to the economic life of the city.
The Daily News provides a recap of the visit, what they learned and what they said, and perhaps reading between the lines what they will report back to the head office!
CHINESE OFFICIALS IN TOWN TO FORGE LINKS
By Sarah Fox
The Daily News
Monday, August 14, 2006
China’s Consul General Chynyan Tiam, who is based in Vancouver, was in Prince Rupert August 9 to 11 to meet the local councils and industry experts about further connecting China and Prince Rupert’s economy.
Consul Tian’s entourage consisted of Juan Weim Consul of the People’s Republic of China, department of commerce: Julie Liu, Vice-Chairperson of the Chinese Business Development Association and the Vice-Chairperson of the Canada-china Business Women’s Association and Weiwei Qui, Public Relations Consul for the Vancouver Consulate.
“They been getting reports and hearing about development of the Prince Rupert port and Prince Rupert economy in general and wanted to come up and have a look for themselves and become more fully acquainted with what is happening, because they want to be able to assist us in making connections with Chinese business in China and they also want to be able to guide Chinese entrepreneurs and Chinese people to this expanding opportunity,” said Mayor Herb Pond who had the chance to meet with the Consul and her entourage extensively.
These meetings were all done under the assumption that business with China is a high priority, with the developing port in Prince Rupert.
While the Chinese were here, they spent some time with the councils of Prince Rupert and Port Edward and toured the city.
They also visited the North Pacific Historic Fishing Village and then spent a good deal of time with the Prince Rupert Port Authority.
After, they met with members of the Chinese community in Prince Rupert.
“One of the things they were trying to gauge is how strong the local Chinese community is because when they are talking to business people about potential business start ups and relocating to Prince Rupert, they want to have some understanding of what kind of cultural support they will have,” said Pond.
The Chinese consulate members were able to talk with Mayor Pond about the recent acquisition of land at Watson Island by Sun Wave Forest Ltd. a division of the China Paper Group.
They now have a better understanding of the urgency that the residents of Prince Rupert have to see a start up of the old mill sooner rather than later, although they are ultimately not the decision-making authority, said Pond.
“I think there was a strong coming together between different parties in Prince Rupert and the Chinese counsel and that we have a very strong ally now in our efforts to grow the economy of Prince Rupert,” said Pond.
“As well, we talked about cultural exchanges, so it’s a lot more than just economic, but where we’re at right now the economy tends to dominate. Jobs, that’s what I said to the consular general, we want jobs.”
Pond visited China a year and a half ago and was surprised to see how much industry development is happening there.
“I was overwhelmed by what I saw there,” said Pond.
“The growth rate is staggering and the construction is staggering. The number of container ships and cranes is overwhelming; everything we do in North America seems small in comparison with what’s being done over there right now.”
It’s just a matter of making partnerships and bringing some of that business our way, said Pond.