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Patrick: China Trip ‘Busy, Useful, Valuable’    

Source: Telegram & Gazette Staff

By John J. Monahan

BOSTON— Gov. Deval L. Patrick returned from a
weeklong trade mission to China with a $200 olive-
colored suit made there, a new interest in fast trains,
and hopes that he and dozens of representatives of
Massachusetts’ businesses planted seeds for future
trade and business partnerships with the emerging
economic giant.

Mr. Patrick noted that he was the 10th governor from
the United States to lead a trade mission to China this
year, pointing out the highly competitive atmosphere.
One of the first visible results of the mission, which
cost about $200,000, could be the launch of nonstop
flights from Boston to China.

With 70,000 people now traveling to Beijing and Shanghai from the Boston area each year,
odds are good an agreement signed last week for passenger air service between Logan
International Airport and China will be instituted over the next 18 months, the governor said.

He and Massport officials met with both Grand China Airlines, the fourth largest Chinese carrier
that is interested in servicing the route, and Chinese civil aviation officials responsible for
approving passenger flight routes. The governor said flights from Boston to Beijing and
through to Shanghai could begin in the summer of 2009, pending delivery of new Boeing 787
airplanes to the Chinese airline.

Mr. Patrick said the many meetings with various Chinese ministries and officials were very
elegant and formal, creating “extraordinarily scripted encounters.”

In most cases, he said, leaders from both sides were seated next to each other at the head of
tables with their respective entourages. Those at the head of the table spoke first, the
remaining representatives speaking in turns down the line. At the end of the sessions, all
following fixed protocols, gifts were exchanged.

Secondary meetings, however, allowed more detailed and friendly discussions of business
opportunities and research partnerships in the fields of clean energy, life sciences, medical
devices and pharmaceuticals. Representatives, he said, “got right down to business.”

Mr. Patrick said the presence of Nobel Laureate Dr. Craig Mello of Shrewsbury and the
University of Massachusetts Medical School, and representatives of Harvard and MIT gave the
Massachusetts delegation “instant credibility” among Chinese businesses and government
officials who consider the state “an idea factory” and a leader in clean energy and life science

The trip helped strengthen ties between those Massachusetts universities and academic
partners, including Tsinghua University that has a previous research and exchange
relationship with the University of Massachusetts.

During a meeting with the head of WuXi Pharma Tech, officials of the firm proposed a
partnership with UMass that would include exchanges for scientists and online training and
degree courses for its employees. Officials from Vertex Pharmaceuticals, of Canton, said the
Chinese company also expressed interest in manufacturing its new hepatitis C drug.

University of Massachusetts President Jack Wilson said Tsinghua University officials also
asked about possible investment in an advanced gene therapy center being planned in

The Massachusetts Medical Device Industry Council signed an agreement with its Chinese
counterparts to promote collaborations and partnerships between the two.

Organogenesis, a Massachusetts company developing regenerative medicine products and
currently focusing on products to help healing and treat scarring, signed an agreement with
the National Tissue Engineering Center in Shanghai to share resources and work on
manufacturing existing cell therapies in Shanghai.

Mr. Patrick was impressed with the aggressive economic development going on in China and
the country’s ability to get things done. He cited the construction of a 1,000-bed hospital in
seven days as an example.

The governor was also very impressed with the mag-lev train that took him 18 miles from
downtown Shanghai to the airport in about seven minutes.

“I rode this magnetic levitating train. It actually levitates … I’d love to figure out a way to use
that technology for example on an inland route to New York,” Mr. Patrick said.

The governor said the strains of rapid population increases in urban centers and an aging
population has created “all kinds of demands” in China to meet health care needs and even
financial planning services. He said environmental degradation also is driving China’s interest
in clean energy technology from the United States, including firms in the Bay State.

“Wind has got to be a part of the strategy for alternative power in China,” Mr. Patrick said. “The
air quality issues in the cities, Beijing and Shanghai, were apparent — worse on some days
than others.”

Officials of Cape Wind, which is planning the Nantucket Sound wind farm, met with the head of
China’s largest wind power company, and the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative signed
an agreement during the trip with the Chinese Wind Energy Association to promote wind
energy research to be conducted by Chinese companies in Massachusetts.

As part of that effort, they agreed to set up the International Wind Energy Fund with $200,000
in annual funding for the exchange of advice and technical assistance for wind projects in

Last week, the governor announced the official opening of the Massachusetts Technology
Center in the Shanghai-Zhangjiang High Technology Park, aimed at starting partnerships with
medical equipment, life science, pharmaceutical and clean energy companies from

“It was a very full, very busy, very useful and valuable visit on a lot of levels,” Mr. Patrick said.
He said the state was given many beautiful gifts, including some silk screens he hopes to hang
in the State House. For himself, he said, he had bought a new suit, which he wore to work

Last Updated ( Friday, 21 December 2007 01:54 )