From May, 23rd to 29th, a special delegation, composed of 8 Silicon Valley mayors, vice mayors as well as several entrepreneurs, visited major innovation and science centers in Shanghai, Chongqing, Zhengzhou and Beijing, sought for potential investors and promising startup projects.
“It’s another sort of way to attract investment. While mega cities can afford to set up offices in China, we have to seek for investment ourselves,” an official in the delegation told TMTpost. During the one-week trip, Silicon Valley mayors, who might also be lawyers, teachers or Congressmen before public office, they attended 5 innovation summits, paid visit to local officials in four cities. However, the schedule was too tight, and they didn’t have much time to have in-depth conversation with Chinese local officials. As a matter of fact, while Silicon Valley mayors still had limited understanding of China after the trip, Chinese officials seemed to be very familiar with the US, whether the political system, or culture and history. Some Chinese local officials could even communicate with Silicon Valley mayors in English and tell them what they saw in Silicon Valley. “It’s great that Chinese local governments are eager to seek for and nurture innovation, but it’s after all not an easy business,” a Silicon Valley mayor commented.
In TMTpost Photo Gallery 027, we recorded Silicon Valley mayors’ one-week trip through videos and pictures.
It was the morning of May, 23rd, Shanghai. Before a conference began, Rick Kowalczyk, mayor of Half Moon Bay, exchanged his name cards with other attendees. Silicon Valley mayors brought with them not only bilingual (English & Chinese) business cards, but also brochures for their cities (in Chinese).
After a roundtable discussion, Michael Lempres, vice mayor of Atherton, proposed a toast along with other guests. Two mayors (district directors) from Anhui province were invited to the discussion. While they were quite enthusiastic about innovation and entrepreneurship, Mayor Michael seemed not to have much to say. As mayor of a tiny city in the US, he had less say in city development plans (except for paying salaries for public servants and providing basic public service) than their Chinese counterparts.
At another innovation summit in Shanghai, members of the management committee of Zhangjiang Hi-Tech Park and Silicon Valley mayors exchanged gifts. The delegation chose a map of Silicon Valley signed by all the mayors as gift, while China gave a fine silk product in return.
Silicon Valley mayors were invited to visit the new work place of Plug and Play in Shanghai. Eduardo Martinez, vice mayor of Richmond, wrote on the glass wall in the public hall: Work happily, enjoy life. Plug and Play is a well-know American incubator based in Silicon Valley. Up till now, it has already set up offices in Shanghai, Suzhou, Chongqing, etc.
Outside of Shanghai Urban Planning Exhibition Center, Silicon Valley mayors and American entrepreneurs who accompanied them were playing their favorite game “The Arch”.
Michael, vice mayor of Atherton, was shocked at the city model of Shanghai. “This city model is so huge! We also have a city model for Michael Lempres, but it’s much smaller than this one,” he said, “Atherton lies right in the center of Silicon Valley, and the house price here is the highest in the US.” There are no tech company but lots of residential houses in Atherton. As a matter of fact, Atherton is the most favorable place to live in for many CEOs of giant tech companies as well as investors in Silicon Valley.
On the way from Chongqing to attend a VR Summit in Chongqing, a VR developer (the person on the left) invited everybody to wear a pair of VR glasses and took a picture together. American entrepreneurs who accompanied the delegation were all focused on VR/AR. In the week-long visit, they were all eager to find potential investors and cooperation opportunities, and held several road shows along the way.
It was the evening of May, 24th, Yubei District of Chongqing. A local investor invited the delegation to a dinner party and became the the focus. After proposing a toast with a passionate speech on “Chinese Dream”, Rick Kowalczyk, mayor of Half Moon Bay first hugged him and joined the toast. He was followed by Eduardo Martinez, mayor of Richmond, who approached the local investor and gulped the “Chinese spirits”. “I want to find some investors for infrastructure sector in my city,” said Mayor Kowalczyk. He was a veteran teacher, and spent half his life teaching in elementary schools. After retirement, he was still keen in public service, so he was encouraged by people around to run for public office and won the election.
Before the VR summit in Chongqing began, Mu Huaping, District party secetary of Yubei District, met with the delegation. After the meeting, Silicon Valley mayors gave some gifts to Mr. Mu, including city emblems, souvenirs, red wine, etc. A day before the meeting, a Silicon Valley mayor asked the interpreter: “Does party secretaries have more power than mayors and vice mayors in China?” He’d met party secretaries of some local Chinese government on study tours in the US, but wasn’t quite sure of how power was divided in the Chinese political system.
Almost all Silicon Valley mayors brought city emblems with them all the time. David Haubert, mayor of Dublin, designed the city emblem of Dubin himself. Throughout the trip across China, he wore the emblem all the time. This is actually one way to introduce Dubin to others: giving city emblems of Dublin as gifts.
On a VR Summit in Chongqing, Mr. Michael tried playing a VR game. He didn’t play any VR game before the visit.
Before taking a group photo. Mr. Michael tried to get into conversation with people around him in order to be polite. “Can you speak English?” he asked the person on the right, who waved his hands and said no embarrassingly. So he turned to the person on the left and began talking with each other. Michael was not only a mayor, but also a lawyer. Previously, he used to be vice president of a private American overseas investment firm and legal advisor to House Judiciary Committee.
Pupils saluted and presented flowers to the mayors during the welcome ceremony for the delegation at Sias University of Zhengzhou University. Before the pupils presented the flowers, some mayors took out their phones to take a picture.
At the welcome ceremony in campus, honor guards and symphony orchestra of the university were all called out, and reviewed by the delegation, a typical but a little bit old-fashioned way to welcome foreign guests in China. While Silicon Valley mayors were surprised at the warm welcome ceremony, young entrepreneurs from Silicon Valley who travelled along with the delegation, however, found the ceremony amusing. “That is crazy”, they exclaimed.
It was the afternoon of May, 26th. Xu Ji, vice governor of He’nan province, accepted the city emblem and name card of Michael Lempres, mayor of Atherton in the meeting with the delegation. An innovation summit that included 23 forums and gathered innovators from across China and around the world was held the day after the meeting. “In China, everybody has become aware of the importance of innovation, and local government officials all rushed to introduce innovation to their own cities,” a Silicon Valley mayor commented. This is actually the most lasting impression of him after the trip.
In Haidian District, Beijing, Eduardo Martinez, vice mayor of Richmond, helped a Chinese official to wear the city emblem of Richmond (Photographed by Zhu Lingyu)
It was Haidian District, Beijing. A young official was invited to deliver a speech at the groundbreaking ceremony of PNP China’s headquarter in Haidian District. “I visited Silicon Valley once, and the beautiful scenary there left a deep impression on me,” he briefly introduced to mayors what he saw in California. While Silicon Valley mayors still had limited understanding of China after the trip, Chinese officials seemed to be very familiar with the US, whether the political system, or culture and history.
Silion Valley mayors and officials of Haidian District at a signing ceremony. From right to left: David Haubert, mayor of Dublin; Lori Liu, mayor of Brisbane; Rick Kowalczyk, mayor of Half Moon Bay; Eudardo Martinez, vice mayor of Richmond; Kirsten Keith, vice mayor of Menlo Parks; From left to right; Jason Pu, former mayor of San Gabriel Valley (the first );Michael Lempres, vice mayor of Atherton (the second); Patricia Showalter, mayor of Mountain View (the sixth).
It was the afternoon of May, 29th, Juyong Pass of the Great Wall. Mayor Michael bought a souvenir and prepared to give it to his daughter as a gift.
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Translated by Levin Feng (Senior Translator at PAGE TO PAGE), working for TMTpost.