By Juliette Schindler Kelly
We drove straight from the Haikou, Hainan airport to a meeting with the president of Hainan Airlines Co, Mr. Wang Yingming and his associate. Hainan Air had its inaugural flight between Seattle and Beijing on June 9, 2008, the only flight it has to the U.S.
Lt. Governor Owen and Mr. Wang discussed the impact of the global economic downturn on air travel, and ways to fill the vacant seats and thus safeguard this important flight. Mr. Wang asked for helping promoting tourism to China, particularly to the tropical Hainan Province, in our state.
We then went directly to a signing ceremony between a Seattle-based company, American Life Inc. and new Chinese agents for promoting the EB5 investment program. Ray Klein, co-founder of American Life based in Japan, signed agreements with the agents for the federally-sponsored capital investment program which will help bring capital and jobs to the Puget Sound.
Lt Governor Owen made a short speech congratulating them. After a quick shower, it was time for the formal meeting followed by the dinner...you know the routine by now! Tonight we were hosted by Jiang Sixian, the vice governor of Hainan Province, a very amicable and (I was told by his colleague) very hard working man. Tonight was a little different from prior nights in that we had another signing ceremony after the formal meeting, this time a friendship agreement between Lt Governor Owen and the vice governor of Hainan Province, agreeing between their two offices to promote people-to-people contacts and 'trade and economic interflow'. An area of discussion, like with Hainan Airlines, was promoting two-way tourism.
In the morning we attended a graduation of the sixth grade class of Haikou #25 Primary School. It was an elaborate affair with the school band playing the music to Bonanza when we arrived and seating us at the front. After we heard the children speaking and reciting poetry, Lt Governor Owen spoke, then helped conduct for the children's orchestra. He was then asked to play a guitar and sing, so he did Puff the Magic Dragon for the children, who impressed us with their manners and talent.
We met with the principal, teachers and other school officials, and it was fascinating learning more about their education system. For those in the Olympia area, stop by the Lt. Governor's office to view the handouts from the school in our reception area.
For the last leg of our mission, we visited what the Chinese used to call 'the end of the world' and now they call it, if they're lucky, their vacation destination. Sanya, we were told by our meeting with the vice mayor Yao Lei, is the Miami of China and is on the same latitude. (Others called it the Hawaii of China...you get the picture. It is the only tropical city in China and the biggest seaside city with a population of 550,000. It's a young city, only 20 years old, and Mr. Yao said it's aspiring to be an international city and thus is welcoming investment as well as tourism.
We constantly searched for Washington wine and told our Chinese friends about it, gave it as presents in a few cases, but did not see any in our travels...or any American wine for that matter. However, we were pleased to see the Washington cherries at a grocery store as we were wandering through. A taste of home which brought a smile to our face, as we began to say our goodbyes and pack for home!
Photos: Top, Lt. Gov. Owen, center, with officials from Hainan Air and Juliette and trip coordinator Ron Chow. Center: Signing ceremony between Lt. Governor and officials from Hainan Province to promote friendship and trade. Lower right: Lt. Governor leads the band during visit with school kids at Haikou #25 Primary School. Bottom left: Discovery of Washington cherries.