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Amid friction, Philadelphia seeks direct flights to Beijing

By ZHANG RUINAN | China Daily | Updated: 2018-04-09 04:11

Despite the recent escalation in tensions between China and the United States, on the sub-national level, there is hope of more cooperation between the two nations in trade — the city of Philadelphia is looking for opening direct flights with cities in China to promote trade, education and tourism.

“The direct flights between Philadelphia and China will bring more opportunities, and it’s very important for the economy for the entire region,” Chellie Cameron, chief executive of Philadelphia International Airport, said at a reception hosted by the airport on Thursday. “And we have the capability to achieve this goal.”

“Direct air link is not only about commercial considerations, it will really bond the two peoples together. It will shorten the distance between our cities and states, and it will change the images of our counties and enhance mutual understanding,” said Zhang Qiyue, consul general of China in New York.

When it comes to the increasingly tense back-and-forth between Washington and Beijing, Zhang said, “trade is not just a cake that if you cut a half, I will just have a half. Trade is the opportunity to create a big cake that is beneficial to everyone.”

“And when we talk about trade between China and the US, it’s not only about goods, but also there is trade in service which the US is in great surplus,” Zhang said, indicating there is growing potential in e-commerce, investment, tourism and education exchanges between the two nations.

“China doesn’t want to get into a trade war with the US; China is not going to overtake the US to become a superpower. China just wanted to bring a better life to all Chinese people,” Zhang said.

“We are here to support the direct flights because we understand the value in trade and businesses that could happen between the city of Philadelphia, the state of Pennsylvania and all cities in China,” said state Representative Jordan Harris, a Democrat representing Philadelphia. “We have products that we would like to get to the Chinese market, and there are products in China we’d like to get here. And there are also many opportunities in tourism. So it’s important to us that we do all that’s necessary to keep that relationship going on the state level.”

“The trade with China is very important to our city. Over the years, we’ve been fortunate to have lots of good trade back and forth with China,” said William Keller, another Democratic member of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives serving the city. “And the city of Philadelphia’s port has just purchased two brand-new giant cranes from China, that’s the kind of trade we like and we want to keep going, and that will create lots of jobs in both countries. And the direct flights will help us to fulfill this goal.”

“I’m optimistic about the dispute (between China and the US over trade), and I think It’s a communication breakdown, and if we all get together and communicate in a mutually beneficial way we can end the perception that there is going to be increased tensions,” said John Sabatina, a Democratic member of the Pennsylvania state Senate. “I hope the situation won’t escalate and the cooler heads will prevail, and we can establish a good trade relationship through communication.”

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