Almanac

Viewpoint - July 9, 2014

Letter: Mayor Mueller in China an 'able diplomat'

I write in praise of Mayor Ray Mueller's contributions to the just-concluded Silicon Valley Mayors Delegation to China. As deputy head of delegation, Ray showed himself to be an able diplomat even while he was a vigorous proponent for Menlo Park, its businesses like Facebook and venture capital, and its attraction as a place for inbound investment.

Mayor Mueller also spoke for the region, most memorably when he advocated strongly for East Palo Alto in front of Shanghai financial managers representing billions of dollars in investment portfolios.

In all, there were 11 mayors and vice mayors on the trip, representing over 550,000 citizens and numerous powerful companies in our remarkable region. As such, our delegation received remarkable access and perspectives.

We were able to meet the deputy mayor of Shanghai (a city with 24 million people, more than half the population of California), the leadership of Hubei and Hebei Provinces (collectively home to 130 million people), and city and party leaders in Beijing, Wuhan, and Shenzhen. We shared perspectives on economic development, technology and the importance of open markets. We broke bread (or rice) and got to know each other.

We know there are skeptics about trips like this. But the fact is, in China, government works very closely with business and Chinese leadership has directed large Chinese firms to invest overseas. Chinese officials and corporate leaders are making decisions where to invest and they want to form trusted relationships with their opposites — mayors like us and our own corporate leaders.

This trip was a small but important step to introduce our 11 cities and to reinforce Silicon Valley as a place that welcomes foreign investment and innovation.

I am grateful to Mayor Mueller for taking time away from his family, work and city to join this first-ever delegation and to help make it the success that it was.

Michael Brownrigg Mayor, City of Burlingame Head of Silicon Valley Mayors Delegation

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