Chongqing catches California's attention

0 Comment(s)Print E-mail China Daily, June 9, 2013
Adjust font size:

Like his great-grandfather's cousin Yung Wing - the first Chinese student to graduate from an American university, Yale College, in 1854 - Antonio Yung felt obligated to give something back to China.

Born and raised in Hong Kong, the 55-year-old American-Chinese brought a trade and education office representing Sacramento, the capital of California, to Chongqing, China's southwestern municipality, in May. The goal is to help expand trade and increase cultural and education exchanges between the two cities.

As an agent for Sacramento, where he has lived since 1976, Yung believes his mission goes deeper: to bring new knowledge and suitable value back to China.

"You (Americans) want to sell food to me (Chinese)? You show me your food standard. You want to sell your technology to me? Show me your core technology," he said, adding that Chinese should demand more than cheaper prices from their US partners.

Yung's staff of eight will focus on three main areas: food and agriculture, clean energy and education. Education is a two-way process, he said, and he enjoys showing the Americans how advanced China is.

The Golden State ranks No 5 in the United States in the value of investment from China. The state could attract as much as $60 billion foreign investment from China by 2020, according to estimates in October by the Rhodium Group, a consulting firm in New York that tracks Chinese outward investment.

The challenge: Americans and Chinese do business in a different way, Yung said.

"A big Chinese company can be the supplier, vendor, designer and sell the products on their own. But that's not what American businessmen do. A successful company in the US generally counts on the number of suppliers and vendors it has," he said.

"It is not either right or wrong. It's just different," Yung said. "What we do is to fill this gap and be the bridge. We will do matchmaking by promotional activities."

Yung believes that the in-depth understandings for both countries are required to do this job well. As a longtime resident he knows Sacramento well, and since his first visit to Chongqing in 2007, he's become familiar with that huge city, too. He's eager to help businesses there as well as clients from Sacramento.

The state of California set up a trade office in Shanghai in April. California Governor Jerry Brown said Shanghai was chosen because of the city's position as a financial hub in China.

However, Yung targeted the inland city Chongqing because he thinks he can do more there. "It is still in an opening-up stage, unlike the coastal cities," he said.

Rob Fong, the president of California-Chongqing Trade and Commerce Organization, a nonprofit group of companies, cities and counties in California, agrees. "The coastal cities are done, everyone has an office there. I love the vision that China has for inland," he added.

Fong believes that Sacramento is a lot like Chongqing. "We are inlands. We are not Los Angeles or San Francisco. We are not on a port or ocean. We have two rivers, Chongqing has two rivers," he said.

The trade office is a presence for Sacramento to develop close contacts. "It is a place, not just a website, with people," Fong added.

Brian Jacks, the regional vice president of the East West Commercial Real Estate in the Bay Area, is keen on Chongqing after his first visit to China in May.

"Chongqing is amazing. I have never seen the rate of development that is going on here. I saw so many tall buildings along the street," he says. "They are everywhere."

More than 100 foreign governments have set up offices in China, mostly at the State level, as the country has developed. Most aim to promote trade and services, but most are based in the first-tier metropolises such as Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong.

Yung spoke proudly of his family history. His great-grandfather Yung Yew Yuan and cousin Yung Wing, both studied in Yale in the 19th century and returned to China, pushing for education and exchanges between the two countries.

"I am not as famous as they are. I don't change history. But at this age of my life, I want to do something to give back, maybe just in a little way."

Print E-mail Bookmark and Share

Go to Forum >>0 Comment(s)

No comments.

Add your comments...

  • User Name Required
  • Your Comment
  • Enter the words you see:   
    Racist, abusive and off-topic comments may be removed by the moderator.
Send your storiesGet more from