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The original item was published from 3/26/2015 4:50:16 PM to 5/3/2015 12:10:03 AM.

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Butte-Silver Bow

Posted on: March 26, 2015

[ARCHIVED] Chief Executive's Matt Vincent's Day to Day report on his China Trip

Wednesday, March 11
The long flight to Shanghai-Pudong airport, via Salt Lake City and SeaTac International.

Thursday, March 12
Arrived in Shanghai. I was not too exhausted to check into my hotel and enjoy my first Chinese “banquet-style” dinner at a local restaurant with the “Butte crew”. Butte’s delegation included myself, Montana Tech Chancellor Don Blackketter and his wife, Vicki; Vice Chancellor/Provost Doug Abbott; Vice Chancellor Beverly Hartline; and Special Representatives Winston Xi Li and Jim Masker.

Friday, March 13
Woke up early and caught a flight from Shanghai to Zhuhai in Guangdong Province. Upon arriving in Zhuhai we were welcomed at an opening reception by Lydia Long, the Vice Mayor of Zhuhai, as well as administration officials from Zhuhai City Polytechnic and Sun-Yat Sen University. We learned much about the city of Zhuhai and its economic/quality of life improvement efforts and shared mutual interest in forging future economic and cultural relationships. After the opening ceremony I met with Andrew Pfeifer, an American entrepreneur, engineer and owner of CNBSolutions, as well as some of his friends, who included other Western entrepreneurs (one who had lived in Missoula for six years and who’d been to Butte for St. Patrick’s Day) and an English teacher at a Chinese kindergarten. In addition to business interests in China, Andrew plays DT for the American football Hong Kong Dragons and for a rugby team in Zhuhai. Andrew very graciously drove me around Zhuhai and around the Macau district. We discussed best practices and opportunities of doing business between Butte and China, as well as the booming economy and cost of living in China. Andrew explained that real estate in south China is at a premium, with a 1,800-ft2 channel- front townhouse going for $3.1M in Zhuhai. Zhuhai has nearly tripled its population in the past 8 years, now at over 2 million people.

Saturday, March 14
Our delegation visited the Zhuhai campus of Sun-Yat Sen University where we were given a university tour and made two joint presentations, one to the administration and one to students and faculty. The day’s business culminated in a banquet at a local restaurant. In addition to the Sun- Yat Sen officials and faculty, we were joined by a Chinese party official in charge of overseeing the President’s anti-corruption office, as well as distinguished SYS alumni, including Sarah Yao, Assistant Bureau Chief of the Zhuhai Free Trade Zone and Dai Shuo Tao, Vice GM of Zhuhai Water Group Co. There was significant interest from Ms. Yao in discussing potential investment opportunities between her entity and Butte, as well as establishment of cultural exchange and support programs. Granted, we were in Zhuhai, Guangdong Province; however, Mr. Pfeiffer picked me up from the hotel in the evening to attend an Irish Cultural Festival in celebration of St. Patrick’s Day. I represented our Mining City by wearing my green shamrock Uptop baseball cap!

Sunday, March 15
The day was spent with administration and representatives of Zhuhai City Polytechnic College, half of which is still under construction. ZCPT is primarily a trade/workforce training school and an impressive one at that! Whereas it seemed difficult to find a specific link to programs between ZCPT and Montana Tech, there was much learned about each institution, and a “handshake” agreement for ZCPT to send a recent graduate/star volleyball player to become a Lady Oredigger. Upon returning to the hotel, we met with Dr. Oscar So and Elaine Young from AC Education Program from Hong Kong. There were discussions about new strategies for Chinese student recruitment for Montana Tech and investment recruitment ideas for Butte. Later, I met up with Ms. Yao from the Zhuhai Free Trade Zone and her associate to discuss more details on the BSB’s Montana Connections Business Park/FTZ; potential real estate investment opportunities and partnership prospects between Zhuhai and Butte on cultural fronts.

Monday, March 16
We departed Zhuhai on an early flight to Beijing, arriving around noon and checking into the hotel in the University District; the hotel’s emblem was a shamrock! We met with Chairman Dong Zxizhue of the China Scholarship Council and his wife, who is specifically in charge of international student exchanges. There was strong commitment for the CSC via the Chairman to support Montana Tech as a premiere institution for Chinese student exchange and academic programs in mining and restoration and ecology.

Tuesday, March 17
We spent the day at China Mining and Technology University-Beijing. Our delegation was given a welcome reception with the University President and department heads, as well as the international student directors. We toured the mining and rock mechanics laboratory and research center and the state key laboratory on geophysics with Prof. John Cole and a number of students, both graduate and undergraduate. We jointly presented to students and faculty and answered a number of questions. One student stayed afterward and talked to me at length regarding training to become a city official/manager. CMTUB hosted an amazing banquet for us. I explained to our new colleagues that it was St. Patrick’s Day and the holiday’s significance in Butte and led them all in a traditional Butte St. Patrick’s Day toast.

Wednesday, March 18
Today, we toured Beijing which included: Tiananmen Square; Mau’s Mausoleum; the Forbidden City; and the Pearl Market. It was an eye opening experience, seeing all the history, both recent and ancient. I would strongly encourage everyone to visit China someday.

Thursday, March 19
We met in the morning at the U.S. Embassy. The Montana Tech delegation met with Embassy staff with regard to Education USA, while Jim Masker and I met with Embassy Staff Cathy Feig and Merry (Shujuan) Cao regarding Select USA. The Embassy was a beautiful campus and building under extremely tight security. After leaving the Embassy, we took the Bullet Train for a 6-hour ride from Beijing to Shanghai. The ride was smooth…at 305 km/hr (189 MPH)!! There were many stops, but most of the country we passed through was agricultural land with thousands and thousands of greenhouses for vegetables; acres of rice paddies and tea trees/bushes. One observation in many of the places we traveled through was how little a premium is put on historic building preservation. There were abundant cases where entire neighborhoods (not just buildings or blocks of buildings) had been razed and were having new structures built on top of the rubble. The other more obvious observation was the air pollution. Visibility was very poor, not only in the city, but just as badly in the rural areas. We arrived in Shanghai at around 7:00PM and checked into our hotel. I contacted Butte native, JP Neal to take him up on an invite to our entire group to come downtown to a new gastropub to talk about Montana/China trade possibilities. JP has been living in Shanghai since the late 1990s and is the Director of Business Development for Xing Sen Management Consulting, an import/export/services company.

Friday, March 20
My last full day in China, I met with the U.S. Commercial Services (Dept. of Commerce) where I had an excellent meeting with Commercial Officer, Dave Averne and his two commercial associates, Maggie Wen and Kelly Li. At this meeting I learned a lot about what our best next steps for Butte developing business with Chinese investors/partners and will follow up with Mr. Averne, as well as his stateside associate, Carey Hester, upon my return. After the U.S. Commercial Services, I met with Ron Reiss and Tim Rivers with REC Silicon to discuss REC’s new 51-49 joint-venture partnership with Shaanxi Non-Ferrous Tian Hong New Energy Co. Ltd. REC and Shaanxi are building a new silicon facility in north China; Ron and Tim are the lead U.S. partners for REC on the project.The Butte delegation ended its trip at the Shanghai Silk Market and ate our last dinner together, toasting to a very successful and enlightening trip.

Saturday, March 21
The long Flight home from Shanghai via SeaTac International and Salt Lake City. We left Shanghai at 12:40p.m. on Saturday and because of the time change, arrived home to Bert Mooney at 6:30 p.m. on Saturday.

I will reflect upon the experiences of this trip for some time. There are definitely opportunities abound to work closely and cooperatively with China, as our world is becoming smaller all the time with technology and a globalized economy. The simplest trip quip I can offer to the average American is this: The vast majority of Americans have the vast majority of what they think they know about China wrong.

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