CHARLESTON, W.Va. - A delegation from Shanxi province in China traveled to West Virginia to sign agreements with representatives from the state's business, educational and government communities.
With the export of million of various West Virginia products, China was the state's second largest international market in 2014. Shanxi is one of China's top coal-producing provinces.
The documents included a Friendship Agreement between the Shanxi Province and the State of West Virginia; a Memorandum of Understanding that promotes educational and academic exchanges among higher education institutions in West Virginia and Shanxi Province; and an equipment purchase and business collaboration agreement between West Virginia's Petitto Mine Equipment and Shanxi Province's Datong Mining Group.
West Virginia Commerce Secretary Keith Burdette and Shanxi Provincial Education Department Director-General Zhang Wendong signed the agreement to "consolidate and develop friendly cooperation" between the state and the province. The goal of the agreement is "to promote common prosperity and development" through exchanges and cooperation in "economy, trade, science and technology, culture" and other fields.
Since West Virginia first hosted a Shanxi delegation in 2006, the state and the province have exchanged a series of visits to cultivate the relationship and to identify business opportunities. Since 1999, the West Virginia Development Office Export Promotion Program has sponsored a West Virginia Pavilion in the China Coal & Mining Expo held every two years in Beijing. The state continues to promote the export of mining equipment by attending the expo and is currently recruiting West Virginia companies to attend the expo, scheduled for Oct. 29 - Nov. 1, 2015, in Beijing.
Chancellor Paul Hill, West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission, and Zhang Wendong, director-general, Shanxi Provincial Education Department, signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to promote educational and academic exchanges among higher education institutions in West Virginia and Shanxi Province. The agreement calls for a state-to-province consortium - an association of educational institutions - to smooth the process for exchanging students and faculty. The goal is to develop institutional partnerships, joint degree programs and joint research activities at higher education institutions in West Virginia and Shanxi Province.
West Virginia has a longstanding relationship of student exchange and English language programs with China. In 2014, Dr. Hill and Dr. Clark Egnor, director of international programs, visited with Zhang in the Shanxi Province on an educational diplomatic mission to build on their relationship. The MOU expands and helps to formalize partnership opportunities.
The West Virginia company, Petitto Mine Equipment Inc. and Shanxi's Datong Mine Group signed a purchase agreement enabling Petitto to export a machine to Datong. The companies also agreed to continue their business and technology collaboration to improve mining safety and efficiency in the future.
The family-owned company manufactures the Petitto Mule™ to move roof supports in longwall mining operations. When Morgantown-based Petitto Mine Equipment made its first sale to China in 2012, Datong was the purchaser then as well.
After the signing ceremony, the delegation was given a tour of the Capitol Complex before departing for the airport.
West Virginia participants included:
- Keith Burdette, cabinet secretary for the West Virginia Department of Commerce
- Dr. Qingyun Sun, Associate Director, U.S. China Energy Center, West Virginia University
- Dr. Paul Hill, chancellor, West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission
- James L. Petitto, president, Petitto Mine Equipment Inc.
The Chinese participants included:
- Zhang Wendong, director-general, Shanxi Provincial Education Department
- Yin Jie, staff member, Shanxi Provincial Education Department
- Guo Ming, chairman and CEO, Shanxi International Energy Group
- Cao Yang, board member, Shanxi International Energy Group
- Ren Xiaotong, senior vice president, Shanxi International Energy Group
- Zefu Ye, project manager, Shanxi International Energy Group
- Guo Jingang, president, Datong Coal Mine Group Co. Ltd.
- Zhu Haiyue, director, Electromechanical Management Office
- Zhang Yong, general manager, Foreign Economical Trading Co.
- Yang Fazhang, chairman, Zheneng Majialiang Coal Co. Ltd.
- Li Ying, general manager, Guodian Tongxin Coal Mine Co. Ltd.
- Li Qingan, director, Datong Coal Mine Group Foreign Affairs Office