Many D.C. residents are embarking on their final summer travel this weekend, but for Mayor Vince Gray, the fun’s only just beginning. Next Wednesday, his office just announced, he’ll start out on a 10-day trip to China.
It’s the second time during his administration Gray will have visited China, the top overseas source of tourists to the District and an increasingly important investor in D.C. projects. Chinese nationals comprise the bulk of investors in D.C. real-estate developments through the EB-5 program, a federal system for granting foreigners green cards in exchange for financial investment and job creation in the United States.
Investment and trade will be at the forefront of Gray’s itinerary in China. He’ll attend a ribbon cutting for the opening of the second D.C. China Center, in Beijing. These centers aim to promote economic interaction between the District and China. The first center, located in Shanghai, opened in 2012.
Gray will also celebrate the 30th anniversary of the District’s sister-city relationship with Beijing and tour the No. 65 Middle School in Beijing “in an effort to establish a Sister School Relationship with McKinley Technology Education Campus in the District,” according to a press release.
Jeff Miller, the interim Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development, will accompany Gray on the trip. Gray has made closer ties to China a priority of his administration and touted recent developments like the start of direct Air China flights between Washington Dulles International Airport and Beijing.
And lest any taxpayers get up in arms about financing a second round-the-world trip for the mayor, Gray’s office notes that the World Tourism Cities Federation, an international tourism foundation whose summit will take place while Gray is in China, is covering his and Miller’s travel expenses.
Photo by Darrow Montgomery