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Monday, June 13, 2005
China trek runs gamut
Governor Linda Lingle is sending the Star-Bulletin daily installments of her journal as she travels through China and South Korea.
The 10-day trip is intended to expand Hawaii's business, educational and cultural opportunities.
During a pre-screening reception, I ran into actor Jackie Chan, who recognized me from when we met in Honolulu. Jackie graciously posed for photos with our group, even rearranging chairs himself so that everyone could squeeze into the photo. The film festival was a perfect way to cap off our visit to Shanghai.
We left Shanghai in the early morning after two extraordinary and productive days. Shanghai was an outstanding way to start my first visit to China. I wish I could have spent more time exploring that vibrant city, while pursuing additional opportunities for our state. I was just as excited to move on to China's capital city of Beijing.
The warm hospitality we were extended in Shanghai continued in Beijing. We were greeted upon arrival by Xie Yuan, deputy director general of the China Friendship Association's Department of American and Oceanian Affairs.
Our first stop was the Great Wall of China, which we reached by driving along one of the five modern highway "rings" that keep the people of Beijing and the outlying districts connected. Along the way, we saw evidence of the latest development and construction surge as Beijing prepares for the 2008 Olympics. We passed the future venue of the Olympic indoor cycling events as well as dorms for the athletes. I am sure this is just the first of many future Olympic sites we will see during our short visit to Beijing.
After an hour-long drive we reached our destination, where I was awed by the grandeur of the Great Wall of China. As has been the case each day of this trip, the Great Wall exceeded my expectations.
I was impressed by the fact that the Great Wall spans more than 4,100 miles from east to west China. It's hard to fathom how such a monumental creation could have been achieved on such rugged terrain, without modern technology. I felt a sense of tremendous admiration and respect for the history of this country, and realized the comparative infancy of our own nation and state.
The climb up the Wall was exhilarating! Due to the steep incline to the top and the different size and unbalanced steps, I know many of our delegation would feel the pain in their leg muscles the next morning. But it is well worth the minor discomfort. Everyone should have the opportunity to experience the Great Wall once in his or her life. I know all of us who made the climb to the top will never forget their walk up, back down as well as the spectacular views.
Tonight we will meet with He Guangwei, outgoing chairman of the China National Tourism Administration (CNTA). Last year when Lt. Gov. Duke Aiona participated in the 2004 China Mission, Chairman He granted approval for Hawaii to open an official business and tourism office in Beijing. We will be only the second state to have such an office. We will officially open the office with a major event tomorrow night at the Great Hall of the People. I also will meet with incoming CNTA chairman Shao Quiwei and other China tourism officials.
This evening, I will also greet UH alumni and expatriates living in Beijing.
Tomorrow will be a dawn-to-dusk day of meetings, including the mayor of Beijing, the signing of Memorandum of Understandings at Zhongguachun Tech Park and with the government of Tibet to develop a resort.