China Trip Taps Transit, R&D Prospects

Yale In ChinaThe owners of two Chinese agricultural-products companes plan to visit New Haven this summer, the first potential fruits of a trip local officials took last week.

Twenty-two New Haveners made the trip to China in a delegation led by Mayor Toni Harp.

The first order of business was to finalize New Haven’s new sister-city relationship with Changsha, a city of 6.5 million people that serves as the capital of China’s Hunan Province. Mayor Harp participated in a formal ceremony with Changsha Mayor Hu Henghua that sealed the relationship.

Harp and the delegation — which included Board of Alders President Tyisha Walker and Albertus Magnus College President Marc Camille — took in sights like the Forbidden City and visited Hong Kong and Beijing as well as Changsha. They saw the Beijing Opera and dined on local delicacies, which turned out to include (a fact learned after consumption) prepared donkey meat.

The city paid a total of $20,000 for the five government officials on the 10-day trip, according to Harp. The officials included Walker, culture and tourism chief Andrew Wolf, mayoral aide Andrea Scott, and Controller Daryl Jones.

Yale In ChinaThe other main order of business of the trip involved pitching New Haven to potential investors from China. That part produced promising new contacts, Harp reported on her latest appearance on WNHH FM’s “Mayor Monday” program.

“I absolutely believe that it was worth it. Not just for businesses, but also for professional talent,” Harp said. She also came with a new appreciation for the possibilities for ambitious public transit projects.

Harp and her team set up a room in Changsha’s Intercontinental Hotel to meet one-on-one with potential investors.

One company that participated in those one-on-one meetings is developing a thin cymbal carbonized silicon fiber to be used in airplane engine parts. Its principals expressed interest in locating a research and development facility in an academic city like New Haven that’s near jet-engine customers like United Technologies and Pratt & Whitney. The company expressed an interest in visiting New Haven in July.

Other companies expressed similar interest in R&D facilities (as opposed to factories) for advanced manufacturing.

One company looking to expand in the U.S. was described as having “investment interests in hospitality, agriculture, healthcare and welfare,
advanced material, advanced manufacturing, electronics, and tourism” in a summary provided by mayoral aide Scott, who was present on the trip. “The company has reviewed New Haven city marketing material and wishes to understand more details on investment attraction policies and sector developments ... [The] company is interested in visiting New Haven in July/August and will try to bring 30 female enterprises.”

Another company that invests in “modern agricultural product processing, cultivation, logistics, and tourism sectors” also discussed a possible July or August visit.

Then “we met with two companies that dealt with water,” Harp said. “We’re a place on the earth that has plenty of water. Our regional water authority is always interested in businesses that need a lot of water. We met with one company that mineralizes water, that purifies it and remineralizes it. A lot of the water that we buy doesn’t have an adequate amount of minerals. They try to make sure it’s the aprprpiate pH balance as well. Another company that has a new patented way of actually purifying water.”

Both companies are run by women. They’re planning follow-up trips to New Haven this summer.

Harp also pitched New Haven investment at a gathering at Beijing’s Yale Club. Many in attendance were Chinese nationals who had attended Yale University, she said. She had discussions about possible private investment in a planned second parking garage at Union Station, which the state of Connecticut is currently overseeing and paying for. Harp threw out the idea of mixing private investment in return for shared ownership of the project with both the city and Connecticut state government. Such public-private partnerships abound in China, she said.

In Changsha, she discussed rail with Mayor Hu.

“The city of Changsha owns the patent for the magnetic rail that they have there. He had an interest in seeing whether or not that would be some kind of a technology that we in a city would be interested in,” Harp said. The magnetic rail systems rely on gravity. You can have some that are up really high and on these podiums. The train doesn’t actually sit on what we would consider a track. It is a little bit elevated. There is some at ground level. Some are underground.”

In the group’s travels, Harp — who has advocated for a 60-minute train from New Haven to New York — noticed how fast rail runs in China. From Changsha to Hong Kong, “we went on a train that went 195 miles an hour!”

The group also passed through many tunnels.

That made her reconsider her previous reluctance to embrace a proposal by the joint New Jersey-New York-Connecticticut Regional Plan Association to construct a tunnel below Long Island Sound connecting our state to either Long Island or the Big Apple.

“When you hear about it, knowing what we know about tunnels in this country, you would think,’“Oh that’s impossible.’ Well, the tunnels they have [in China] are phenomenal. Most of our tunnels are straight. They had a tunnel there that went in two different directions.

“The technology they have there is amazing. They have the technology to build these tunnels really quickly. They use tunneling all the time there. Almost everywhere we went, there were tunnels. I think we shouldn’t just write tunnels off, which is what I was willing to do based on my experience with American tunnels.”

Harp also met engineers who offered to spend a few months in New Haven in a knowledge-sharing fellowship of sorts at City Hall.

In addition to a transit theme, the visit ended up having a feminist theme. Harp, New Haven’s first female mayor, met with Carrie Lam, Hong Kong’s first-ever female leader. She also met with the female president of Changsha’s Central South University, who designed the bullet train that Harp’s group rode. And then there were the female-owned water-preneurs who may get to know New Haven better.

Overall, Harp was blown away by how modern China looked. Outside of the Forbidden City, Beijing was crammed with skyscrapers and connected by state-of-the-art transit. “The wealth that you see displayed and the improved infrastructure that you see … What you see going there,” Harp said, “is like New York times three.”

Click on or download the above audio file or the Facebook Live video below to hear the full interview on WNHH FM’s “Mayor Monday” program about the New Haven delegation’s trip to China, including Mayor Harp’s reflections on privacy, public works, and other similarities and differences between our two societies.

This episode of “Mayor Monday” was made possible with the support of Gateway Community College and Berchem Moses P.C.

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posted by: Noteworthy on April 16, 2018  6:59pm

It’s a Good Life Notes:

1. Glad we can pay the vacation expenses for Mayor Harp and het acolytes. Not.

2. If a company comes here, it will not do anything for New Haveners.

3. If you can’t get companies to move from NJ, MA, RI or NY - you think they’ll move from China? And pay our taxes? Haha

4. This story should be followed in detail, and the expenses should also be detailed. Did anyone fly First Class?

posted by: opin1 on April 16, 2018  8:32pm

Since my comments are often critical of the city government for not controlling its spending, I will say, I don’t have a problem with this trip. I kind of like the idea. As Noteworthy points out, I’d love to see some follow up stories on this in 6 to 12 months.  If any foreign investment/jobs come from it, then props to the mayor. Either way, I look forward to seeing how this goes.

posted by: THREEFIFTHS on April 16, 2018  10:19pm

Like I said.Read the book.City for sale.

posted by: JCFremont on April 17, 2018  8:10am

America does not need to learn about innovations in mass transit, there are multiple systems that are out there what we do not have is a commitment or plan to get off the 19th century system that our pseudo public/private owned systems continue to run on. 3/5th’s I mentioned you should also read Fear City and you responded “That happened during the Beam Administration.” It didn’t “happen” what happened was that the bills from the city’s “Free Lunch’s” came due during the Beam Administration. Ed Koch began a New York City Renaissance beginning with his personality and love of the city. The cities history has been a roller coaster of booms and busts much of it a partnership of not so transparent dealings between business, shady philanthropy and government officials looking to make a personal buck.

posted by: LoveNH on April 17, 2018  8:22am

Great effort on this, Mayor.  The cache that Yale carries in Changsha - where 120 years ago Yale missionaries established the city’s first major hospital - is significant.  I hope Walker touted the harmonious partnership that could be expanded with Yale.  Perhaps it was omitted from the story, but was there no representative from Yale or the Yale-China Association? If so, this was a disappointing oversight by Harp’s team, as there is a 120 year history of collaboration already in place that could have formed a basis for expanded cooperation. in any event, kudos for the effort! I hope it bears fruit!

[Paul: Yale-China was definitely present and was in fact a driver of the trip. Sorry to leave that out!]

posted by: John Bodnar on April 17, 2018  10:11am

Our Mayor can show them our thirty year old cars on the Hartford Line if it starts running 20 May.

posted by: THREEFIFTHS on April 17, 2018  10:23am

Overall, Harp was blown away by how modern China looked. Outside of the Forbidden City, Beijing was crammed with skyscrapers and connected by state-of-the-art transit. “The wealth that you see displayed and the improved infrastructure that you see … What you see going there,” Harp said, “is like New York times three.”

And the reason why it is like New York times three is this.

What’s Happening With Chinese Investment in New York City Commercial Real Estate?

There was a lot of nail-biting from the New York real estate community heading into this year after hearing that the biggest whale in terms of investment might not be allowed to swim in our waters. We’re talking, of course, about China.Chinese investments made up 11 percent of the $24.51 billion spent on commercial real estate in New York City this year through September compared with last year’s 13 percent of $45.87 billion.Despite a slowdown in deal flow and a reduction in investment sums, the Chinese have been going for big deals in New York City..

They are even buying in the hoods

For China’s middle class, Brooklyn real estate offers more than a green card

They are advertising all over the place, with billboards in Chinese cities advertising green cards in exchange for U.S. investment.”
-Dr. Peter Kwong, professor of Urban Affairs and Planning at Hunter College

For Brooklyn residents, rising rents and the shrinking availability of affordable single-family homes is an age-old concern — one that has only intensified as overseas buyers drive up prices in an already tight market.

Like I said Read the Book city for sale.and you will see where New haven is going.

Part One.

posted by: THREEFIFTHS on April 17, 2018  10:43am

Part two.

Harp and the delegation — which included Board of Alders President Tyisha Walker and Albertus Magnus College President Marc Camille — took in sights like the Forbidden City and visited Hong Kong and Beijing as well as Changsha.

I bet they did not let you all get to see this in Forbidden City. in facl this is why it is call Forbidden city.

Life and death in Apple’s forbidden city
In an extract from his new book, Brian Merchant reveals how he gained access to Longhua, the vast complex where iPhones are made and where, in 2010, unhappy workers started killing themselves

“This factory area is legally established with state approval. Unauthorised trespassing is prohibited. Offenders will be sent to police for prosecution!” – are more aggressive than those outside many Chinese military compounds.
Thanks to a simple twist of fate and some clever perseverance by my fixer, I’d found myself deep inside so-called Foxconn City.

Apple under fire over reports students worked illegal overtime to build iPhone X
Manufacturing partner Foxconn had student interns working 11-hour days to make £999 iPhone

Again Read the Book City for sale.

posted by: THREEFIFTHS on April 17, 2018  10:46am

posted by: JCFremont on April 17, 2018 8:10am

3/5th’s I mentioned you should also read Fear City and you responded “That happened during the Beam Administration.” It didn’t “happen” what happened was that the bills from the city’s “Free Lunch’s” came due during the Beam Administration. Ed Koch began a New York City Renaissance beginning with his personality and love of the city.

I did read the Book.I was born in New York. Remember both of them.Ed Koch also sold the city out just like mayor harp and her crew are selling out New Haven. In fact Ed Koch sold out the gay community.

Ed Koch and the Cost of the Closet
There is a special place reserved for the late New York City mayor in gay hell.
By Richard KimTwitter

The instant beatification of former New York City Mayor Ed Koch has a lot of folks itching to do some grave-dancing. Leftists will denounce Koch because he was one of the original neoliberal mayors, ushering in a regime of gentrification and finance-driven inequality that defines the city to this day. Minorities regard him with suspicion because he marginalized the city’s black and Hispanic leadership and inflamed racial fault lines to corner the white vote, presaging the Sister Souljah moments that would come to afflict the national Democratic Party. And yet even there, among the new Democrats, Koch was never a stalwart, breaking with the party to endorse George W. Bush for president in 2004 and flirting with the neocons over Israel late in his life.All that said, there is a special place reserved for Koch in gay hell—because he was mayor during the onset of the AIDS epidemic, which he is widely seen as failing to do enough about, and because it’s commonly assumed that Koch was a closeted gay man. “I hope he’s burning next to Roy Cohn”—or sentiments quite like it—have appeared frequently on my Facebook feed, especially from vets of ACT UP..

posted by: HenryCT on April 17, 2018  1:10pm

Here’s an important takeaway lesson:

Why is it that the USA, still the wealthiest nation that the world has ever produced - perhaps not for long - cannot rebuild its infrastructure? Cannot invest in efficient high speed trains. Cannot build the fastest internet for all its citizens? Cannot invest in its children and provide excellent publicly funded education from pre-school through graduate school? And so much more? 

How is it that China, 30 years ago a poor developing country is catching up and surpassing the USA?

One major answer is that China is not fighting a dozen wars for oil, military bases and monopoly control of the world’s resources. China is not bombing far away countries to assure that its oil corporations control the oil that China, India and Europe buys.

So what does that violence cost us? At least $1.2 trillion each year for past, present and future wars. Trillion! Each year! Even as we paid our debt to Veterans, as we should, we could re-allocate a huge portion of that money to our residents’ needs. Health, housing, education, transportation, infrastructure, greening our economy. An added benefit is that we get more jobs manufacturing for the 21st century green economy for every dollar spent than we get in building killing machines.

Rather than pivoting our military to the Asia Pacific region to threaten war on China, expecting China to divert its resources to defense, let’s compete on providing all our people with living wage jobs and a healthy productive life in a world that protects nature and our environment. Yes we can.

posted by: LoveNH on April 17, 2018  1:51pm

Before you venerate the Chinese Communist Party too much, please know that their repression of individualism and violence in the face of dissent has been profound and unforgiving for the better part of the past 100 years. In the 21st century, China has voraciously pursued monopoly control of world resources with no regard for environmental degradation, minority persecution, or support of military dictators - apparently driven purely by nationalist expediency.  President Xi’s recent power grab calls to mind the worst of many far left and far right dictators throughout history.
Your critique of the United States
and our failure to rise to our ideals is well-taken, but please do not hold up the Chinese Communist Party as the appropriate alternative to working for a more just and centrist liberal, free-market democracy.

posted by: HenryCT on April 17, 2018  4:58pm


You have read into my comments words that were not there. I did not mention the Chinese Communist Party, nor did I imply any approval or disapproval. That is the role of the Chinese people, not me. To the extent possible, I am responsible for the US government, which currently is the entity that decides for the people of other countries whether their governments are acceptable or not. If not, the US assumes the responsibility to overthrow them. History abounds with examples. China is just another notch waiting to be carved into the US gun barrel. I refuse to participate in that policy. My critique and my comparison is aimed at my country.

You can easily confirm whether or not China has developed its infrastructure and you can confirm how much China spends on its military and you can confirm how many wars China is fighting right now. All I did was compare China in these areas with the United States of America.

Insofar as you raise issues of China’s poisoning the environment, minority persecution, grabbing of resources - the forerunner for China is the US and its imperial allies in Europe. Seventy years ago, a US foreign policy leader said publicly that if the US with 5% of the world’s population yet absorbing 25% of its resources was to continue along that path, it would have to do it by brute force. He was dead right. It is so obvious.

Right now the US is desperately trying to maintain its control of the world’s resources and wealth. By brute force. By subterfuge. By sabotage. Not for the majority of the people of this country who are being beaten down economically, politically, socially. But for the 1%. All the while, US infrastructure is decaying, 22% of the residents in New Haven are food insecure, student debt is astronomic, etc., etc.

You want to criticize the Chinese Communist Party? Go ahead. I don’t know about you but I don’t have Chinese citizenship. I vote in US elections.

posted by: JCFremont on April 18, 2018  8:15am

China is going through it’s own “Gilded Age” if you look at it’s major cities we see many similarities to 19th century America. Interesting that Rail Service is prominent in China’s “growth,” Anybody recall the Broadway and 29th Century Limited? The building of America’s great Rail Stations? Anyone remember the outcomes? Is the threat of Chinese real estate investors similar to the threat of Japan buying up America in the 1970’s? They brought Rockefeller Center they brought The Pebble Beach Golf Course! They eventually sold “back” at a loss. Agree, Mr. Bodnar that is a perfect picture of Connecticut’s Rail System, of course on the Metro North system they run brand new trains on century old tracks.

posted by: Rich Pizzo on April 18, 2018  10:26am

The prejudice, bigotry, xenphobia here in the US is stacked high against China and unjustly so….

I have been studying the culture, their technology, their language, their government system,,, their balanced implementation of socialism and capitalism….IMO is very well done…... US American’s can learn a lot from them….

posted by: JCFremont on April 19, 2018  9:54am

Mr. Pizzo in The United States the balance between capitalism and socialism falls under the term of Crony Capitalism which though a recent term has been operating strongly since around the 1850’s if not before. It gained strength with the railroads, America’s original infrastructure. Today it is epitomized by the description “They came to do good and stayed to do well.”