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Mayor, Business Group Host Chinese Delegation. Councilmember Voices Objection

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Fresno Mayor Jerry Dyer (left) and Chinse Consul-General Zhang Jianmin met Monday in Fresno. (Image: Fresno County EDC)
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A group of Fresno elected and business leaders met with a Chinese delegation Monday to discuss trade. But not everyone was happy about the local-level diplomacy.

The topic, at the Kodiak Club within Chukchansi Park, was trade, Fresno County Economic Development Corporation president and CEO Lee Ann Eager said. She organized the event after the San Francisco-based consulate-general office reached out to her.

“They do have some connections and some businesses that were very interested in our ag tech industry and what that might look like,” Eager said.

The local delegation meeting with Consul General Zhang Jianmin included Mayor Jerry Dyer, Councilman Mike Karbassi, Fresno County Supervisor Steve Brandau, and Fresno State President Saúl Jiménez-Sandoval.

The delegation also visited food manufacturing plants in Fresno County.

Arias Criticizes Meeting

Councilman Miguel Arias declined an invitation to the meeting, criticizing the event.

“Today I declined the invitation to meet with the #China delegation seeking to do business in our city. The recent #ChinaProtests are the latest example of a communist country placing more value on business interest than human rights. @CityofFresno is better than that,” Arias tweeted.

China has violently cracked down on protests of groups saying the Communist government have taken COVID restrictions too far. The “zero-COVID” strategy has confined millions of people to their homes for months at a time, the AP reports.

Tweet from Fresno City Councilman Miguel Arias.

Karbassi countered.

“It is unfortunate that some wish to politicize this meeting,” Karbassi, the City Council’s representative to the EDC board said.

The meetings came as international tensions between the U.S. and China continue. President Joe Biden recently met with Chinese leader Xi Jinging, months after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco, visited Taiwan— upsetting the Chinese.

“How would we feel if world governments cut ties with the U.S. after the Jan. 6th Capitol insurrection? President Biden just made a big step toward thawing the ice with China at the G20 summit in Bali. Local governments can do their part to support peaceful diplomatic communications. It’s when we don’t talk to each other that wars are started, military, cyber, and economic,” Karbassi said.

Eager said that the issue of China’s human rights record never came up during the meeting.

“This was a meet and greet on, really, about trade with China and what that might look like in the future,” Eager said. “(Arias) certainly has a right to his opinion.”

Eager looks forward to future events with Chinese ag buyers.

Brandau: Not the Right Setting

Brandau’s role at the meeting was to provide a brief welcome, discussing the county’s role in the region especially agriculture.

“We talked about all of the commodities and the desire for San Joaquin Valley to get their commodities out to China and the rest of the world,” Brandau said. He also provided county pins for the Chinese delegation.

Brandau has been critical of China in the past, especially over COVID policy. But he said brining it up at the meeting was “not the right setting.”

“I don’t get the luxury of just speaking with people I agree with all the time. If China and the United States are going to be able to live peacefully with each other, we’re going to have to have more conversation like we had yesterday rather than fewer,” Brandau said.

He said he is willing to bring the issue up at any future meeting.

Curiosity drives David Taub. The award-winning journalist might be shy, but feels mighty with a recorder in his hand. He doesn't see it his job to "hold public officials accountable," but does see it to provide readers (and voters) the information needed to make intelligent choices. Taub has been honored with several writing awards from the California News Publishers Association. He's just happy to have his stories read. Joining GV Wire in 2016, Taub covers politics, government and elections, mainly in the Fresno/Clovis area. He also writes columns about local eateries (Appetite for Fresno), pro wrestling (Off the Bottom Rope), and media (Media Man). Prior to joining the online news source, Taub worked as a radio producer for KMJ and PowerTalk 96.7 in Fresno. He also worked as an assignment editor for KCOY-TV in Santa Maria, California, and KSEE-TV in Fresno. He has also worked behind the scenes for several sports broadcasts, including the NCAA basketball tournament, and the Super Bowl. When not spending time with his family, Taub loves to officially score Fresno Grizzlies games. Growing up in the San Francisco Bay Area, Taub is a die-hard Giants and 49ers fan. He graduated from the University of Michigan with dual degrees in communications and political science. Go Blue! You can contact David at 559-492-4037 or at Send an Email