D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray plans return trip to China hoping to drum up investment


D.C. Mayor Vincent C. Gray, seen greeting incoming students during the first day of school at Eastern High School on Monday, will begin a 10-day trip to China on Wednesday. (Amanda Voisard/For the Washington Post)
August 28, 2014

As Mayor Vincent C. Gray closes out his single term in office, he will seek a reprise of one of the high points of his tenure — a trade-oriented mission to China — his office said Thursday.

In his only overseas trip as mayor, Gray (D) visited China in June 2012, where he opened a D.C. China Center in Shanghai and helped close an investment deal that pumped tens of millions of dollars into a long-stalled real estate project in Shaw.

Gray’s 10-day return voyage will begin Wednesday, according to a statement from his office, and it will include the opening of a second D.C. China Center, in Beijing, and a celebration of the 30th anniversary of D.C.’s sister-city agreement with the Chinese capital.

“Our three-decade-old relationship with Beijing has flourished over the years, and will only grow and deepen thanks to the efforts we will undertake on this trip,” he said in the statement.

Accompanying Gray on the trip will be M. Jeffrey Miller, the acting deputy mayor for planning and economic development, and Patricia Ellwood, the mayor’s protocol director. Two economic development aides and an executive from the city tourism bureau will attend part of the trip, and a small delegation of private-sector representatives will also participate in the trip, said Chanda Washington, a Gray administration spokeswoman.

Gray will be in China at the same time as Prince George’s County Executive Rushern L. Baker III (D). Washington said the two have scheduled several “forums and receptions” together there.

Gray’s former economic development chief, Victor L. Hoskins, is now serving in a similar role for Baker. Hoskins said Thursday it was “fortuitous” that both chief executives will be in China at the same time; joint events, he said, are scheduled for both Beijing and Shanghai.

“The mayor will talk about all the valuable assets and opportunities in D.C.; we’ll talk about the assets and opportunities in Prince George’s County,” he said. “The great thing is, they’re different, and they’ll be attractive to different investors.”

The District’s official relationship with Beijing dates to 1984, when then-Mayor Marion Barry and D.C. Council Chairman David A. Clarke led a 13-day goodwill tour that culminated in the signing of the sister-city accord. A D.C. businessman who participated in that trip, architect Alfred H. Liu, will also accompany Gray next week.

The China centers, Gray’s office said, “serve as the portal to information and services that can help facilitate economic exchange between the citizens in the country of China and District residents and business owners.”

Gray is also set to sign a cultural exchange agreement between Beijing and the District, and he will establish a “sister school” relationship between a Beijing secondary school and D.C.’s McKinley Tech middle and high schools.

Another centerpiece of the trip will be a Beijing summit of the World Tourism Cities Federation; Gray said he will encourage the group, a nongovernmental coalition of more than 100 cities, to hold its next summit in Washington.

The mayor’s office said travel costs for Gray and Miller are being “funded through” that organization.

Mike DeBonis covers Congress and national politics for The Washington Post. He previously covered D.C. politics and government from 2007 to 2015.
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