“We introduce new technology to the market, but we also learn some very valuable lessons in the market that we can then apply in other markets around the world, so it is truly a two-way street. It’s a symbiotic relationship,” he said.
Shandong Gov. Guo Shuqing said other firms like AGCO can help the province move up the value chain in many of its top industries, including energy, manufacturing and tourism.
“We need to speed up the service industry,” said Mr. Guo, who brought a delegation of leaders from 20-plus Shandong companies to Georgia parallel to the biennial meeting of the Regional Leaders Summit, a club of top leaders from seven provinces and states around the world. They met in Atlanta to share best practices on hosting sporting events and advancing their logistics industries.
The Oxford-educated leader, one of few Chinese officials in recent years to address Georgians in English, was honest about the challenges facing his province.
“We are going to take more forceful measures to improve the ecological environment. To be frank, nowadays we are suffering a lot from smog. We have very heavy problems with air pollutants,” he said.
Shandong is also ramping up urbanization, building more public housing and energy infrastructure as it brings more residents into the city to help raise their standards of living, Mr. Guo said.
He framed these challenges as investment opportunities for Georgians as the province carries out the central government’s admonition to create new “silk roads” linking China to the outside world through overseas trade and cooperation.
He added that planned reforms by China’s central government will make the country a more attractive place for foreigners.
“This year is the year of reform,” he said, adding that Shandong is a testing ground for changes in China’s financial industry and system of land distribution. “We are going to open wider to the world.”
That opening has already benefited Georgia, which is home to the U.S. headquarters of Qingdao-based electronics and appliance manufacturer Hisense. Its cross-town rival, Haier, has a refrigerator factory in Camden, S.C., and has set up logistics operations near the Port of Savannah.
Hisense Group Vice President Lin Lan said at the forum that the company hopes to be more firmly "rooted" in the communities where it operates, like Suwanee, Ga.
China’s new Consul General in Houston, Li Qiangmin, said he hopes more companies will follow the lead of those from Shandong and Georgia.
"I'm confident that with the sustainable and pragmatic efforts of the state of Georgia and Shandong province that ... we will achieve more fruitful results,” he said.
While in town, Mr. Guo, the governor, met with his Georgia counterpart, Mr. Deal. He also presided over the opening of a new exhibition of photographic reproductions of paintings depicting the life of Confucius at Georgia State University’s Rialto Theater.