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Day 1: Officials arrive in China
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Liberty County’s eight delegates arrived in Hong Kong Monday after a 30-hour flight, to begin the first leg of a 10-day economic development mission. The group also will pursue cultural and educational exchanges with Hinesville’s sister city of Yichun.
“We are opening doors for our residents to have a world view and provide (them) more opportunities,” said Krystal Britton, spokesperson for the city of Hinesville.
Britton spoke to the Courier by telephone Tuesday morning; it was 9:06 p.m. Chinese time. The city’s public relations manager said the delegation is still adjusting to a 12-hour (ahead) time change.
“Today we met with the Jiangxi Association of International Economic Cooperation in Nanchang,” she said. The Liberty County contingent flew from Hong Kong to Nanchang yesterday local time, and then took a four-hour bus ride to the “Porcelain City,” Jingdezhen, on Tuesday.
“We were the first foreigners to arrive in Nanchang (for the expo) and that received a lot of media attention,” Britton said. “We were briefed on the area. It was a warm welcome after a tiring flight.”
The Chinese have been extremely hospitable, showing Liberty County’s representatives the utmost in customer service, she said.  
“There’s a smile on everyone’s face and they are always willing to help,” Britton said.
The city’s Chinese hosts are interested in learning more about Liberty County School System’s arts and vocational education programs, particularly LCSS’s cooperative affiliation with Savannah Technical College, she said. They also wanted to know more about the city and county’s managerial styles, to better understand how local government operates in the United States, Britton explained.
 “They’ve asked what is it like and do you like living there,” she added
Britton stressed these conversations help create opportunities for tourism, as well.
Tuesday the delegates toured the porcelain industry and a museum in Jingdezhen and then traveled to Yichun by bus.
Britton likened Hinesville’s relationship with its sister city Yichun to a college education, saying “It takes time (to develop and grow).”
 “I am confident in the end we will accomplish several goals,” she said. “It’s up to us to decide where we want to go with this.”
This is the City of Hinesville’s second trip to the Jianxigi province of south central China. Hinesville officials first travelled to China in 2008, and representatives from Yichun visited Liberty County on Dec. 8, 2009.
This trip cost the city $1562.40 per plane ticket and $180.90 per Chinese Visa for each of Hinesville’s four delegates, Britton said in an email to the Courier last month. Hinesville’s delegates include Britton, Mayor Jim Thomas, city manager Billy Edwards and global commerce consultant Emily Tsang. Liberty County Board of Commissioners Chairman John McIver, Liberty County Development Authority CEO Ron Tolley, and KC Brothers Construction owners James Rim and Wu Ni are also on the trip.
Representatives from Savannah and Brunswick are visiting China as well. Each of the three coastal Georgia cities will visit its corresponding sister city in China. The three groups will then unite to form the Coastal Georgia delegation for the Central China Global Commerce Expo in Nanchang next week.
Britton said a 2012 return trip to China is already in the works.
“We would like to have a member of the community or a representative of the media go on the next trip,” she said. “So they can see what we’re trying to do, not as a city but as a community.”
On a personal note, Britton offered her observations of the climate and cuisine.
“The weather I would say is pretty close to what it is in Hinesville,” she said. “It was 90 degrees today and humid.”
 “I think it will be hard for me to eat food from Chinese restaurants back home – it’s a lot different here,” she continued. “Everything is fresh and flavorful, not over seasoned.”
Hinesville’s spokesperson said the delegates have driven through the Chinese countryside, viewing farmland, rivers and mountains.
“You see locals out tending the crops,” she said. “There seems to be a lot of room for expansion and growth. Each expansion is carefully planned and zoned before the expansion occurs.”
Britton will provide the Courier further updates later this week. She said the city might hold a forum next month to share the delegation’s trip with the public.

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