Thank you very much to Ambassador Baucus for your kind introduction. I am honored, humbled, and proud to be to spend this historic evening with you all.
I am inspired tonight to see leaders from China and Oregon who work every day to strengthen our business and trade partnership. This work takes years to develop and many of you have known each other for a long time. Tonight, we honor the relationships you have built and everything you have done to bring jobs, growth, and prosperity to both Oregon and China. Let’s keep it up.
China is without question one of the most important partners Oregon has in the global economy—China is Oregon’s number one trading partner at $4.3 billion in merchandising exports in 2014—that is one dollar for every five that leaves Oregon and enters to global export market.
I certainly hope that the relationships and business between our state and China continues to blossom. But perhaps most important, they have the potential to lead to a deeper cultural connection between the people of Oregon and the people of China. Because of our history together, it is our responsibility to help ensure this tradition continues for future generations.
Oregon, for example, now has 31 Confucius Classrooms, the highest number in the U.S. Soon we will have many Oregonians who can speak Chinese. 2015 has also been an incredible year for Chinese tourism in Oregon—China is our number one market for incoming tourists. It’s incredible to know that so many Chinese are crossing the Pacific to learn what makes our state so special.
I believe Oregon and China have much to offer each other—we are communities linked with shared economic goals and cultural values.
China and the United States are the world’s top emitters of greenhouse gases, which means that any pact on curbing emissions must have both countries’ support to be effective. I am pleased that last November in Beijing, President Xi and President Obama announced a landmark agreement that saw China for the first time agree to cap growth in its carbon emissions by 2030.
As you may know, to bolster those efforts, last month I signed an accord with six Chinese Governors to work together to advance renewable energy and clean technologies in conjunction with economic development in their respective jurisdictions.
Oregon promises to be a partner in this effort by offering the talent and technological expertise in finding innovative solutions for achieving environmental sustainability.
But also, we offer our deeply held belief that environmental stewardship and economic growth do not have to be mutually exclusive goals. We strive look beyond status-quo thinking and recognize that finding innovative solutions for preserving the environment opens entirely new economic opportunities and job growth on its own.
Oregon looks forward to building and growing the ties with China that will help us both reach our goals.
When we focus on developing personal relationships and cultivating mutual respect for and understanding of each other’s cultures, our economies will thrive together. Let’s continue that growth, together, for many generations to come.