Making a Difference Overseas

By: Rachel Yonkunas Email
By: Rachel Yonkunas Email

A 10 day trip across the world's second largest economy isn't all business. The mayors found their values mirrored in the Far East.

Mike Kennedy is mayor of Monroeville, Alabama. Last year, his city hosted the Alabama China Partnership Symposium.

“They're like us, you know? They have the same concerns and I could imagine if I was starting a business or company in China and how hard it would be and the questions I would have and I really admire them for stepping out,” said Mayor Kennedy.

While in Hong Kong, the mayors attended a gala event for the Earthpulse Foundation—a charity helping local communities in poverty. Founder Hing Chao said education might bridge both sides of the world.

“If we can create a multi-level partnership between the universities in Alabama and with the government, as well as research institutes in Mongolia, but also Hong Kong, I think we can do something quite interesting,” suggested Chao.

Entrepreneurs at the event said the mayors' visit symbolized a unique outreach. They think these new relationships can also combat poverty, terrorism, and other world issues.

“In the last several tens of years, in the whole world, we try to make some big steps; try to do something bold. It's really a simple step, a baby step, to making a big impact,” said Francis Ngai, CEO of Social Ventures Hong Kong.

Hongda Zhang is Chairman of Tianjin Jin Chuang Import & Export Co., Ltd. He said the big impact can fuel international economies.

“China and the U.S. market complete each other and, hopefully, with the SoZo Group, we can help more medium, and also private companies, to invest in the U.S. and build a good image of Chinese business,” said Zhang.

Although the mayors' trip focused on business, their new friendships sparked humanitarianism.

Philanthropist Ronnie Chan is most noted as Chairman of the Asia Society—an institution on all things Asia. He said business is a great start, but not just for profit.

“Money cannot solve all the problems in the world. But without money, most of the problems cannot be solved either. So businessmen, if they are at all any form shape successful, they will make some money. Question is, what do you do with this money?" asked Chan.

U.S. and Chinese leaders agreed, knowing is step one. Deciding what to do with that knowledge, comes next.


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