Last week, the Lt. Governor led a Washington state delegation of clean energy leaders in higher education, government, and business on a weeklong trade mission to China. Next week, he will lead a delegation to South Korea.
The purpose of the China trip was threefold:
- to promote investment in Washington’s clean energy sector;
- to strengthen the international collaboration between the University of Washington and Tsinghua University; and
- to reinforce diplomatic relations between Washington state and its Chinese provincial counterparts.
During the clean technology business portion of the trip, Lt. Governor Habib represented Washington state’s interest in addressing climate change through global cooperation, and advancing Washington state’s green economy. Governor Inslee has identified clean technology, and efficient energy storage in particular, as key to mitigating climate change. In Liaoning province, home to one of China’s premier technological development zones, the Lt. Governor discussed opportunities for international development in clean energy with Liaoning-based dignitaries and business leaders, and delivered an address to one of the top efficient energy storage companies in China, Rongke Power. Joining the Lt. Governor and representing some of the most cutting-edge clean energy technology in the world, Washington-based UniEnergy Technology, Membrion, and Battery Informatics, with Governor Inslee’s Clean Technology Sector Lead, Brian Young, participated in the mission’s clean energy meetings and demonstrated Washington’s prioritization of clean energy research and development. The visit was a success for Washington’s participating businesses, who gained capital investment and reinforced the critical relationship between the clean energy sectors of Washington state and Liaoning province.
The purpose of the higher education portion of this mission was to build on the groundbreaking collaborative relationship between the University of Washington and Beijing-based Tsinghua University. In 2015, Governor Inslee signed the “2+2 MOU” with Party Secretary Wang Dongming — establishing the partnership between Washington state and Sichuan province, and the University of Washington and Tsinghua University – to prioritize research on reducing carbon and combatting climate change. During this year’s mission, Lt. Governor Habib delivered a speech commemorating a new development in that 2+2 relationship: the establishment of initial seed funding for low-carbon transportation and a new clean energy system. In addition to securing further funding, the University of Washington’s Clean Energy Institute and Tsinghua University’s Energy Internet Institute were identified as key implementing organizations, and are planning international research exchanges to complement each institution’s strengths — including a research workshop in Seattle this December.
On the larger international stage, the Lt. Governor joined former U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu and Sichuan province dignitaries as a speaker at the U.S.-China Green Energy Summit. In delivering his opening remarks, Lt. Governor Habib emphasized the importance of linking economic growth with environmental priorities – and that Washington state’s growing clean energy economy, as well as China’s, is evidence that the two priorities are not necessarily in conflict.
Finally, the Lt. Governor sought to promote diplomatic ties and expand opportunities for cultural exchange by meeting with Washington’s Chinese government counterparts and by participating in major diplomatic events. The Lt. Governor met with the mayor of Chengdu, a city of over 14 million; the mayor of Dalian; the vice governor of Sichuan province; and many other government representatives to promote international collaboration. In his meeting with Vice Governor Zhu, the Lt. Governor participated in a celebration of the 35th anniversary of the sister state-province relationship between Sichuan Province and Washington state – one of Washington’s longest-standing sister-state relationships. The 35th anniversary came with two significant deliverables for Washington state beyond the promotion of friendship between state and province. First, a new Seattle-based Sichuan Province International Chamber of Commerce will be established in Seattle – bringing with it greater access to global trade for our state, and support for Washington businesses. Second, the 35th anniversary established a new sister-school relationship between Washington state and Sichuan Province, offering new opportunities for educational enrichment and cultural exchange. To commemorate the occasion, the Lt. Governor presented Vice Governor Zhu with a personalized plaque to demonstrate Washington state’s continued interest in promoting international exchange in trade, education, and culture.