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Officials say China trip builds relations
Liberty County Commission Chairman John McIver, back left, and Hinesville Mayor Jim Thomas view a 3-D model of a development project at the 2010 Central China Expo in Nanchang, China last month. - photo by Photo by Krystal Britton
The Hinesville-Liberty County contingent of the Coastal Georgia delegation deemed their trade trip to China a success in terms of relationship building and opening the door for future business opportunities.
“It’s not something you can exactly measure at this point,” said James Rim, co-owner of KC Brothers Construction in Hinesville.
Rim and his partner, Wu Ni, paid their own way to travel to China with local government officials. The city of Hinesville’s cost for the trip was $36,555.89, including airfare, meals, lodging, visas for the city’s four official representatives and for the cost of printing and translation of a Coastal Georgia brochure in addition to gifts (for the Chinese) and consulting fees, according to a city press release.
“The Chinese are willing to do business with us, they want to do business with us,” Hinesville Mayor Jim Thomas said Wednesday.
The Chinese are more receptive when a “government-to-government” relationship is first established, Thomas said, adding this helps pave the way for industry to follow. He added having two American business people on the trip, Rim and Wu Ni, helps “speed the process” for other Liberty County companies that want to forge business dealings with the Chinese.
Liberty County Commission Chairman John McIver had commented in a county commission meeting earlier this month it could take several such trips before Hinesville and Liberty County see significant results.
The mayor disagrees.
“I don’t think the time period (for business deals) will be years at all,” Thomas said.
Rim echoed the mayor’s opinion.
“From my standpoint (the trip) was very productive,” he said Wednesday. “We just have to develop the relationship in the right direction at the correct speed. Not necessarily slow, but in a way the culture will allow.”
Rim said he does not think it will take “years” for business dealings with the Chinese to evolve.
“I had a chance to visit several businesses including spending time at the Central Chinese Expo which was huge,” he said, adding industry representatives from five Chinese provinces attended the expo. “There are about 45 million people living in those five provinces,” he said. “I have made good contacts among city officials in China that have business on their minds. I’m already getting e-mails from them.”
Rim, Wu NI, McIver and Thomas, along with Hinesville City Manager Billy Edwards, public relations manager Krystal Britton, global commerce consultant Emily Tsang and Liberty County Development Authority CEO Ron Tolley, travelled to China with officials from Savannah and Brunswick Sept. 19-29.
This was Hinesville’s second trip to the Jianxigi province of south central China. City officials first visited China in 2008, and representatives from Hinesville’s sister city of Yichun visited Liberty County last December.
“Overall, the city of Savannah focused on promoting its clean energy conference in 2011, the city of Hinesville participated in discussions about cultural and educational exchanges and the city of Brunswick shared medical technology with their sister cities,” Britton said in a prepared release. “Collectively, the group met with industries and government leaders to market Coastal Georgia as a perfect area for Chinese businesses to enter the U.S. market.”
Britton listed a number of goals met on the trip, including the signing of a letter of intent for a student exchange between Savannah Technical College, Liberty Campus and Yichun Vocational College.
“The ultimate goal is to develop contacts for Chinese and American businesses to build long-term relationships and eventually the (city) government won’t be part of the equation,” Thomas said.

Hinesville 2010 China Visit Media Kit
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