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Wednesday, June 15, 2005
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.
This morning's China Daily reported that Beijing is expected to have 5 million cars by the year 2020, more than double the 2.35 million currently on the roads. Beijing today is far different from the images I've seen of the throngs of bicycles that used to dominate the streets.
I also was struck by the level of construction that is taking place in the capital city. Like the 2008 Beijing Olympic countdown clock in Tiananmen Square, the cranes that dot the Beijing skyline also serve as a countdown to the Olympics. All the construction is slated to be completed by the end of 2007, just in time for the Summer Games. With everything I've seen and learned about China so far, I have no doubt that the construction projects will be completed on time.
We arrived today in Guangzhou in Guangdong Province midday after a nearly three-hour flight, and the first thing everyone noticed was the humidity. Before leaving Honolulu, I was advised that China would be hot and humid, which is why I was surprised that the weather in Shanghai and Beijing was moderate and even cool in the early mornings and evenings.
Not the case in Guangzhou, which is located within the Tropic of Cancer. I love this weather, but many in my delegation are hoping for some tradewinds.
This afternoon I visited Zhongshan University, also known as Sun Yat Sen University. University of Hawaii President David McClain, UH-Hilo Chancellor Rose Tseng and Zhongshan University President Huang Daren signed a memorandum of agreement to expand exchange programs between Hawaii and China. The two universities also will pursue developing an executive MBA program in conjunction with UH-Manoa's College of Business Administration. President McClain told an audience of students and faculty that UH has nearly 200 agreements with universities around the world, but only a handful at the system-wide level. This system-wide agreement with Zhongshan University adds to UH's list of international partnerships.
After the formal signing ceremony, I was invited to the podium to address the faculty and students of Zhongshan University about leadership in the 21st century and the importance of partnerships between government and universities in developing leadership skills. Like our university students back home, these students are not just the future of China, they are the future of the world.
During the follow-up question-and-answer session, I was asked why more American students don't come to China to study. I explained that one major reason American students don't attend universities in China is the unfamiliarity with the language.
In contrast, I delivered my entire remarks and answered the students' questions in English without a translator because the university wanted the students to practice their English. The students spoke eloquently and with tremendous confidence. I was very impressed with how well they have captured the English language. They even laughed at my jokes.
Tomorrow I will report on my meeting with Guangzhou Governor Huang Hua Hua, with whom we will be reaffirming Hawaii's 20-year sister-state/province relationship with Guangdong Province, and an evening discussion with a group of women leaders from Guangdong. We also will travel to Zhongshan where we will meet up with members of the Hawaii Chinese Chamber of Commerce who are taking part in their annual Narcissus Goodwill China Tour.