WA China Watch Digest Special

Year-end special: Top ten Washington state-China stories of 2015

By Wen Liu   Dec. 30, 2015

WA China Watch Digest is new and small, but would like to start a tradition of a year-end listing of the top ten news stories of Washington state and China. Here is the first attempt, from 10 to 1, with 2015:

JBLM10: First group of People’s Liberation Army soldiers visited Washington

In a Disaster Management Exchange program, about 80 soldiers of the People’s Liberation Army of China spent three days in November on Joint Base Lewis-McChord. It was the first bilateral training exchange between and U.S. Army Pacific and the Chinese army in humanitarian aid and disaster response missions.

Sichuan pandas9: State legislators asked Xi Jinping for two pandas for Washington

Former Governor John Spellman presented a letter in September from the state legislators to Chinese President Xi Jinping. The legislators requested two pandas for the state, emphasizing the friendship relations between Washington and Sichuan, home of the pandas. Xi has responded favorably, according to the Seattle Times.

Lt. Gov. Owen with Vice Gov. Wang8: Lt. Governor Owen and Vice Governor Wang met in Sichuan for “2+2 MOU”

Lt. Governor Brad Owen met in Chengdu, capital of Sichuan, in October, with Vice Governor Wang Ning and discussed the implementation of the “2+2 MOU” between Washington and Sichuan and between UW and Tsinghua, on developing climate-smart, low-carbon cities signed in September by Governor Inslee and Governor Wang Dongming.

Gaw Capital7. Hong Kong investors took ownership of Columbia Center in Seattle

Gaw Capital Partners of Hong Kong, outbidding other investors, paid $711 million in August to acquire the 76-story Columbia Center, according to the Seattle Times, from the former owner Beacon Capital Partners. It was the first time for an Asian company to own Seattle’s trophy tower, said the Times.

WA apples6. Washington apples gained full varietal access to China market

After years of negotiations and two years of no access, China opened its market in May to all varieties of Washington state apples, not just Red Delicious and Golden Delicious as before. Todd Fryhover, president of the Washington Apple Commission, said, this year, Washington apple growers were expected to export 5 million boxes of fruit to China.

Shenzhen5. Seattle and Shenzhen built new ties in multiple areas

Seattle and Shenzhen signed an MOU in April to build commercial, academic and cultural ties, along with those between Intellectual Ventures of Bellevue and Vanke of Shenzhen, UW and Shenzhen Institute of Advanced Technology Innovation, Gates Foundation and BGI of Shenzhen, and Washington State China Relations Council and Shenzhen Foundation.

NW Innovation Works4. NW Innovation Works to invest $5.2 billion in methanol plants in Washington

With the Chinese Academy of Sciences as its majority owner, NW Innovation Works announced plans to invest $5.2 billion in the state to develop plants to convert natural gas into methanol at the ports of Kalama, in Cowlitz County, and Tacoma, to be shipped to China as a feedstock for its plastic industry. Governor Inslee welcomed the project.

Bill Gates and Li Keqiang3. Bill Gates’ TerraPower to build traveling wave reactor with China

Bill Gates’ nuclear power company, TerraPower, signed an agreement in September with the China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC) to collaborate on building the traveling wave reactor, an advanced nuclear technology that TerraPower began working on in 2006. Gates said the agreement exemplified the U.S. and China working together well.

GIX building design2. UW and Tsinghua with Microsoft launched Global Innovation Exchange

Global Innovation Exchange, a new type education and research joint venture, was launched in June by University of Washington and Tsinghua University, with $40 million from Microsoft. GIX, to be located in Bellevue, will recruit students from the U.S., China and other countries and, starting in 2016, offer master’s degrees in technology innovation.

Xi welcomed by WA leaders1. Chinese President Xi Jinping visited Washington state

President Xi Jinping began his U.S. visit in September in this Washington, as did his predecessor Hu Jintao in 2006. Here Xi gave his only policy speech, attended business and tech events, visited Boeing, Microsoft and Lincoln High School in Tacoma. His visit once again proved the special relationship between Washington state and China.

(For more information on major events in Washington state-China relations, go to WA China Chronicle.)