A sleepy-eyed Mayor Nutter returned from his week-long trip to China on Thursday, telling reporters the “action-oriented” trade mission would help grow jobs in Philadelphia because of the connections he made.
“We have a number of international companies … who are international firms that operate here in Philadelphia that employ Philadelphians, and it’s just a part of my job,” he said of the trip. “We are an international city and we should start acting like it.”
Nutter, president of the U.S. Conference of Mayors, spoke at an event on sustainability in Beijing and visited Tianjin, a Philadelphia sister city.
He also met with an executive from Air China and pushed for a direct flight from China to Philadelphia, the largest U.S. city without a direct connection.
“The interest was clear, and they were very appreciative that we took the time to come by,” Nutter said. “Having the mayor talk with the vice chairman of Air China, it’s our understanding, is very, very important to them.”
Nutter took a “bullet train” from Beijing to Tianjin, a rapidly expanding port city.
“It’s about the same distance as Philly to New York. It took about 30 minutes,” he said.
While both Philly and Tianjin are the fifth-largest cities in their respective countries, Tianjin has about 13 million people, compared to Philadelphia’s 1.5 million.
“We’re all grappling with the same kinds of issues, whether it’s public safety, whether it’s water supply,” Nutter said.
He add that he will consider traveling to Philadelphia’s other sister cities, which include Tel Aviv, Israel, and Florence, Italy, and Douala, Cameroon.
The trip, which cost about $8,500, was paid for by Select Greater Philadelphia, a branch of the Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce. Mayoral spokesman Mark McDonald, however, said that the city essentially paid for the trip because it contributes to the Select program for excursions like these.