Missouri Politicians look east
Officials make China visit to improve trade, cultural ties.
WASHINGTON (AP) - Some of Missouri%u2019s leading elected officials are traveling to China next week to promote economic development for the state.
The high-profile delegation includes both of Missouri%u2019s U.S. senators, Republican Kit Bond and Democrat Claire McCaskill, as well as Gov. Matt Blunt, St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay and St. Louis County Executive Charlie Dooley.
The meetings with Chinese officials in Beijing are expected to enhance trade and improve cultural and educational ties between the two countries, Bond spokeswoman Shana Marchio said .
China%u2019s ambassador to the United States, Zhou Wenzhong, was in St. Louis last month to meet with business and political leaders from the state. During those talks, Wenzhong invited McCaskill and Bond to continue discussions in China.
"The overall objective is to explore how we might have stronger trade and economic development relationships between this region and arguably the fastest-growing economy in the world in China," said Richard Fleming, president and CEO of the St. Louis Regional Chamber & Growth Association.
Fleming, who is joining the delegation for the trip, said the focus is to expand St. Louis%u2019 role as a hub for transportation and distribution of exports from the Midwest to China.
After the China visit, Bond will visit Thailand to meet with government officials and receive intelligence briefings. The U.S. Department of State is paying travel expenses for Bond and McCaskill, who is traveling first to Shanghai for separate meetings and plans to meet the delegation in Beijing.