Chinese Chamber working to broaden isle-China ties


POSTED: Tuesday, November 10, 2009

The Chinese Chamber of Commerce of Hawaii is pleased to join Gov. Linda Lingle and the director from the state Department of Business, Economic Development & Tourism in strengthening the state's long-term economy by increasing business between China and Hawaii.

The large size and rapid growth of China's economy provides many opportunities for business exchange that will be of great benefit to Hawaii, and the Chinese Chamber is uniquely positioned to assist the state in this important mission.

Formed in 1911, the Chinese Chamber is nearly 100 years old. Our mission is threefold: to increase commerce both locally and internationally; to promote Chinese culture; and to perform our civic responsibility by helping the community.

This year, the Chinese Chamber is celebrating the 60th anniversary of our Narcissus Festival, while the People's Republic of China also celebrates its 60th birthday. Almost immediately after diplomatic relations between China and the U.S. were normalized in 1979, the chamber began its annual Goodwill Tour to China, establishing long-term relations with organizations such as the China Association of International Friendly Contacts (CAIFC) and the Chinese Overseas Affairs Office under state Council.

The chamber partnered with DBEDT during last month's Splendor of China cultural event to bring in a photo exhibit that commemorated 30 years of U.S.-China relations. It has been displayed in Beijing, Shanghai, Hong Kong and the Nixon Library in California, and is now scheduled for the Carter Center in Atlanta. In June 2010, the chamber will send its 30th Goodwill Tour to China.

Few, if any, organizations in the U.S. have such a long relationship with Chinese government officials.

In the last year, the chamber purchased its own building and created the Chinatown Community Development Center, which offers free business classes and mentorship services to the community from a faculty of 30. Also, a Center for Foreign Relations was created to promote increased exchange with countries such as China in the areas of business, goodwill, culture, education and science.

Given these challenging economic times and the need for increased business activity in the state, the Chinese Chamber will join the governor in several meetings with Chinese officials in Hainan and Guangzhou. Aside from me, representing the Chinese Chamber will be president-elect and attorney Jeff Lau, chamber board members and business owners Alan Ho and Eddie Ngan, and chamber members state Rep. Corrine Ching and Chaminade University business professor Debbie Halloff.

Several areas of interest will be discussed, with a special focus on tourism. Hainan Airlines will begin the first direct, non-stop flights from China to Hawaii early next year. The potential of the Chinese traveler is great, as Taiwan recently discovered with the introduction of direct flights from mainland China.

In the last year, Paul Pei, director of marketing for Ocean Park in Hong Kong and an affiliate faculty member for the Chinese Chamber's Community Development Center, gave a seminar to 120 people in our visitor industry on courting the Chinese traveler. Ocean Park receives millions of Chinese visitors each year.

The Chinese Chamber will also be participating with the governor and DBEDT in meetings on clean energy technologies, scientific exchange, environmental engineering and innovation. In Sanya, Hainan and Guangzhou, there will be meetings on our major theme areas—commerce (tourism, in particular), education and scientific and cultural exchange.

Dennis J. Hwang is president of the Chinese Chamber of Commerce of Hawaii.