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    In this photo taken April 29, 2011, ships cruise along a portion of the Yangtze River experiencing low water levels in southwest China's Chongqing Municipality. Authorities are rushing to unsnag snarled shipping traffic and prevent accidents along the drought-stricken Yangtze River, a key route to fast growing markets in inland China.

  • Elizabeth Dalziel / AP

    In this photo taken Nov. 2, 2008, apartment buildings crowd the skyline in Chongqing, China. In the sprawling megacities of Beijing, Shanghai and Chongqing, where populations exceed 10 million people, extreme urban density means that the number of people living within a few blocks equals those in a whole mid-size U.S. city. China's urban population soared to 607 million last year out of a population of 1.3 billion. Three decades ago nearly 80 percent lived in the countryside, but urbanization continues unabated as job-seeking rural migrants flood into cities. The scale and pace continues to soar, and by current trends, the urban population will hit one billion by 2030.

Sacramento’s trade mission to China aims to attract investment

Published: Sunday, May. 11, 2014 - 9:20 pm
Last Modified: Monday, May. 12, 2014 - 1:35 pm

A delegation of Sacramento city officials, trade representatives and college faculty head to China this week for what has become an annual trade mission to the metropolis of Chongqing.

City officials said the focus of the trip is to recruit Chinese investment in public and private projects back home and to increase Sacramento’s profile overseas.

Sacramento opened a trade office in the municipality of roughly 30 million people last year. Situated in the southwestern part of China, Chongqing is a major manufacturing and transportation hub.

City officials signed a memorandum of understanding with their counterparts in Chongqing two years ago and have set aside just under $100,000 a year for the trade office, which could be Sacramento’s first foreign consulate.

China is already a major California trading partner. Last year, the state exported $16.4 billion worth of goods to China. Only Canada and Mexico bought more California goods.

The Sacramento delegation leaving this week includes city employees; faculty from UC Davis, Drexel University and California State University, Sacramento; and local leaders in trade, produce and clean technology. They will be joined by members of the U.S. consulate in Chengdu, China.

The cost for two city employees to attend the trip is $10,000. Other members of the delegation are paying for their own travel.

Jim Rinehart, the city’s director of economic development, said one of the public projects officials plan to discuss with potential Chinese investors is the planned streetcar system to link downtown and West Sacramento.

Federal Transit Administration officials announced last week that they would work with local governments on developing the system. That announcement was seen as a pivotal step toward securing up to half of the funding for the $150 million project from the federal government.

The rest of the funding would likely come from local sources, but the streetcar system could also be “a potential investment” for Chinese firms, Rinehart said.

Another focus of the trip will be promoting exports from the Sacramento region, especially agricultural goods and clean technology. Sacramento officials will bring fresh cherries from the Central Valley to celebrate a new agreement that allows area farms to ship directly to Chongqing, instead of through port cities thousands of miles away.

Rinehart said more than 100 students and 50 college faculty from Chongqing studied at Sacramento-area universities during the current school year and that this week’s trip will try to “advance further our educational and cultural ties.”

Finally, the delegation will work to promote Sacramento to Chongqing’s population and business leaders. The delegation is hosting a contest with high school students in China, judging them on their knowledge of Sacramento. The winner will receive a trip here.

More than 20,000 Sacramento residents are Chinese American – the largest Asian ethnic group in the city, census figures show.

“No one will do business with us, much less invest in our community, unless they know who we are,” Rinehart said.

Call The Bee’s Ryan Lillis, (916) 321-1085. Read his City Beat blog at Bee staff writer Phillip Reese contributed to this report.

Read more articles by Ryan Lillis

About City Beat

Ryan Lillis has covered the city of Sacramento, its 108 neighborhoods and its politicians since 2008. Prior to that, he covered crime at The Bee. A native of upstate New York, Lillis has a journalism degree from the University of California, Berkeley.

Contact reporter Ryan Lillis at

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