CHICAGO — Mayor Richard Daley's long effort to build ties with the world's second-largest economy seemed to pay off Thursday as Chinese President Hu Jintao arrived for his first visit to Chicago, his only stop outside Washington during this trip.
Hu was expected to focus on economic ties between China and Chicago during his whirlwind overnight visit to the city. Experts said the attention from China has been the envy of other US cities and could mark a gigantic — and profitable — step forward for both parties, despite the sometimes rocky US-China relationship.
"Our long range goal is to make Chicago the most China-friendly city in the US," Daley said during a Thursday night dinner attended by Hu, as well as Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn, top city officials and business leaders.
Many have credited Daley's efforts so far. The mayor has traveled to China four times since 2004, touting Chicago as a global transportation hub with large manufacturing and industrial sectors friendly to Chinese business.
"Chicago deserves some kudos. It's clear that he's (Daley) cultivated the China relationship and he's learned how to do that very well," said Kenneth Lieberthal, director of the John L. Thornton China Center at the Brookings Institution. "Mayors and governors around the country, regardless of their politics, see China as a source of potential capital, markets and jobs. So you better be ones looking to have the president of China come here."