Chicago officials, business leaders hail Obama's China visit

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Chicago government and business leaders said Tuesday they were pleased with President Barack Obama's visit to China, believing the United States and China had entered a new era of cooperation.

John Thomson, executive director of the Chicago-China Economic Development Center, said in an interview with Xinhua on Tuesday that with Obama's visit to China the two countries are at the beginning of a new era of cooperation with more understanding between the two sides.

Thomson has devoted most of his professional career in China. He worked in Beijing in 1979 and participated in negotiations for many of the treaties and agreements to build a framework for the US-China relations.

Thomson said that China is a very different place from what it was in 1979 and the United States too.

"The two countries agreed to work together in 1979 and the US-China relationship has grown over the last 30 years with lots of ups and downs," he said.

"The US-China relationship is better than it had ever been for a long time. Generally we are going at a very positive direction, and we are only at the beginning of a new era of cooperation," he added.

Suzanne Malec-McKenna, commissioner of the Department of Environment at City of Chicago, was thrilled to see the new progress made by President Obama in China.

"If the United States and China can truly forge a strong meaningful long-term partnership, it gives me incredible hope for our planet, for our economy and for our environment," She told Xinhua.

Regarding issues on environment, Malec-McKenna described President Hu Jintao and Obama's new statement as really "a commitment" for both countries to collaborate on these issues. "They hit the major points of our responsibility to climate change, our opportunities on energy and green jobs, and our recognition that we need each other in order to have the most effective programs possible."

Elizabeth Harrington, president and CEO of e-Harrington Global, was very pleased Tuesday morning when she read the news about the joint statement issued during Obama's visit.

"It is critical for the future of the United States and the future of China. It is wonderful that we are mutually agreeing to work on many critical issues. China and the United States must work together and there are not many problems that we can not solve together," she told Xinhua.

When talking about the significance of the sightseeing during President Obama's visit to China, Harrington said, "It is a very important thing because President Obama has much to learn about China, and the only way that he can do that is by getting out and seeing China, its great history such as the Great Wall and the Forbidden City, and also China's new things such as the "Bird's Nest" (the National Stadium) and the Shanghai Stock Exchange."

She was also excited about Obama's successful dialogue in Shanghai with Chinese youth.

"Most importantly, he needs to get out, meet and talk to Chinese leaders and citizens. Obama needs to learn and understand China and fortunately he is a smart enough guy to understand that and he is a very open person and willing to learn," she added.

Obama arrived in Shanghai Sunday night to kick off his four-day visit to China, his first trip to the Asian country since taking office in January.

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