MOLINE – Lt. Governor Sheila Simon welcomed the man expected to be the next president of China to Moline today and pledged to work to strengthen business and economic ties between Illinois and China.
The red carpet ceremony for Vice President Xi Jinping at the Quad City International Airport marked the first meeting between top Illinois leaders and a Chinese delegation since Governor Pat Quinn led a trade mission to China in September.
Xi is expected to be confirmed as China's president later this year, and the trip introduced him to the Midwest and the rest of the United States. He visited the White House on Tuesday, and will continue his tour with a stop in Muscatine, Iowa today, where he spent time in 1985 studying advanced hog raising and spent two nights with a local family.
“Illinois leads the Midwest in exports and foreign investment, and we want to build on these successes to grow our economy,” Simon said. “Building a trade relationship with China will help keep Illinoisans employed here at home.”
After Canada and Mexico, China is the state’s third-leading export market. China purchased about $3.9 billion in machinery, electronics, agricultural products and other goods from Illinois last year, a more than 22 percent increase from 2010, according to the Office of Trade and Investment.
During the State of the State Address earlier this month, Governor Quinn announced the creation of an Export Advisory Council. It will advise the governor's office on how to double the state's exports within two years.
Simon was joined on the red carpet by Secretary of State Jesse White, Moline Mayor Pro Tem Scott Raes and Yang Guoqiang, the Consulate General of China in Chicago.