By Juliette Schindler Kelly
On Wednesday, I awoke to a beautiful day in Qingdao; apparently the brief but heavy rainfall had washed away the grayness in the air. I admired the view of the ocean, old-fashioned architecture and sculpture along with, of course, a large building being constructed (photo).
Then it was off to tour Haier, like Tsingtao Beer a company begun by the Germans if I understand correctly, but now a very successful Chinese company with a dazzling array of products tailored to and exported all over the world. Some of the products rivaled those in Microsoft's Home of the Future, like the sink with a mirror that recognizes the identity of the user and a welcome message appears on the mirror as the water is warmed to the user's preferred temperature.
Haier's grounds were amazingly planned and sculpted (photo) and we viewed a photo of Haier's impressive building in Manhattan. Next we visited Jimo City, hearing a presentation at
Chang International, a Seattle-based seafood company. The site in Jimo, Evergreen Foods, ships to the U.S. and Europe primarily from the nearby airport and port of Qingdao.
It is a community, with workers able to live, eat and shop at the site. They use increasingly more sustainable raw materials and grow organic vegetables on site for packaging with seafood to make meals. They see hatching fish, farming organic vegetables and processing as their future of value-added seafood. Jerry Chang, the president, received his master's degree from University of Washington fisheries school, a fact he was proud of, and in fact talked about possible exchanges between the U.W. school and his undergraduate fisheries school in Qingdao.
Jimo is one of the cities within greater Qingdao. As is the protocol for such meetings with government officials, we had a formal meeting with the first vice mayor of Jimo, Deyan Zheng, (photo) followed by a lunch banquet.
Again and again, the Chinese demonstrate their gracious hospitality including with these lunches, with smaller plates (like tapas) being served one by one while you choose from a variety of local dishes on what we'd call a Lazy Susan in the middle of the table.
Preparing banquets, welcoming their guests warmly, offering to carry bags (even when they are petite women about half your size!), and giving beautifully decorated gifts are all customs to show their friendship and develop 'guangxi' or a longer relationship.
The vice mayor expressed sincere interest in establishing a sister city relationship with a Washington city and we discussed possibilities to approach, thinking of which Washington cities might be a match in their economic bases.Then it was time to fly to Henan Province, a new region for both Lt Governor Owen and me. After landing in Zhengzhou we drove northwest to a city called Jiaozuo. We drove through green rural areas, with a lot of agriculture production, particularly cotton.
Unsurprisingly, textile production is an important industry in Jiaozuo. We crossed the wide Yellow River before entering the town. We were formally greeted in the city hall by the mayor Sun Litsun and his colleagues, along with the presence of local media (photo).
Again, the desire to find a sister city to form a friendship agreement with was put forth by this mayor. Then the vice mayor and foreign affairs officials hosted our dinner banquet, comprised of local foods and emphasizing food with herbal and medicinal qualities.
Although they didn't help apparently, I can't blame these properties for causing me to be up many hours that night with food poisoning, as my stomach upset had started earlier. Unfortunately, that seems to be one of the occasional and unfortunate consequences of traveling to a land with food and drink your body isn't familiar with, and my trusty kit of meds was soon put to use.