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Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner reportedly joined several local business leaders on a trade mission to China this week:

Members of the Greater Houston Partnership and several local Chambers of Commerce are said to be traveling with Turner on the trip in an effort to encourage Chinese businesses to view Houston as a favorable trading partner.

Highlights they are looking to feature including advantages unique to our city, such as the Port of Houston and the high number of Chinese firms already doing business in the city.

According to reports, the trip will mark Turner’s first trade mission to China since taking office in 2015.

He explained to Xinhua, a Chinese new service, he expects “to strengthen our existing positive relationships with Chinese business and government sectors, as China continues to be our second largest trading partner.”

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According to a report from Turner’s office, the trade between Houston-based firms operating in China and Chinese firms doing business in Houston combine for nearly $15 billion every year; Houston sends billions of dollars in oil, plastics and industrial equipment to China, and their exports include furniture, iron and steel.

“This trip is an essential mission to enrich all of Houston’s ties with China and explore new business opportunities that will help nurture our local economy with jobs and investments,” a press release from Turner’s office read in part.

Turner and his delegation are said to be meeting with Chinese officials in Beijing, Shanghai and Shenzen, a sister city with Houston since 1986, which comes with vital financial center with ties to nearby Hong Kong.

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“We want Chinese companies to understand that Houston is full of opportunities and also is a culturally diverse and accepting community,” Turner’s release continued.

He also pointed out a cultural connection between Houston and China: former Houston Rockets center and Basketball Hall of Famer Yao Ming.

Yao now reportedly lives in Shanghai, where he is president of the Chinese Basketball Association.

“I am glad we have Yao Ming as our honorary global ambassador to help us promote our city.”

Here’s wishing them the best on their trip!

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