Md., sister province in China sign 5 deals

November 12, 1994|By Ian Johnson | Ian Johnson,Beijing Bureau of The Sun

HEFEI, China -- Maryland's 14-year relationship with China's Anhui Province paid economic dividends yesterday, as the state's trade delegation signed five important agreements in environmental protection, architecture, mining, nursing and high-technology development.

Although the total dollar value of the deals remains to be worked out, they give at least three Maryland companies a strong presence in Anhui, Maryland's sister province in China. The central Chinese province's economy grew 22 percent last year, helping to make China the world's fastest-growing economy over the past few years.

"It's very difficult to nurture a relationship over thousands of miles and changes of administration, but we have raised the relationship to a new plateau," said Mark L. Wasserman, secretary of the Department of Economic and Employment Development, who headed the 23-member delegation to China.

After two days of intense negotiations -- preceded by months of groundwork by the companies and state -- the five deals were signed yesterday in Hefei, capital of Anhui.

The deals include:

* A joint venture between EA Engineering, Science and Technology Inc. of Hunt Valley and the Anhui Institute of Environmental Science. EA Chairman Loren Jensen said the agreement, which comes on top of a similar deal with the Chinese Research Academy of Environmental Sciences in Beijing on Tuesday, will allow EA to bid on cleanup projects with its Chinese partners. China is embarking on several large-scale environmental projects, and the deals give EA an inside track on them.

* An agreement between Baltimore-based RTKL International Ltd. and the Anhui Provincial Urban and Rural Planning and Design Academy to cooperate on urban planning and architectural projects. The deal bore immediate fruit yesterday when the academy invited RTKL to help design a $150 million tourist facility at Huangshan, a pilgrimage site.

* A memorandum of cooperation signed by Ellicott Machine Corp. of Baltimore and the Anhui General Dredging Engineering Corp. Ellicott representative Walter Greene said he expects to sign a letter of intent today to work on three projects, including joint production in Baltimore and Anhui of a dredge and possible participation in a $1.2 billion project to build a dam on the Yellow River.

* A high-tech exchange program between the Department of Economic and Employment Development and Anhui's Science and Technology Commission. Anhui is a center of high technology in China, boasting the country's most prestigious technical university.

* The University of Maryland School of Nursing and the Medical College Department of Nursing in Bengbu, Anhui, to set up faculty and student exchange, as well as joint conferences and research. Other delegation members also reported progress, although no specific deals.

Chinese officials said they were happy that the Maryland-Anhui relationship had started to result in business deals. Anhui Vice Governor Wang Xiuzhi said the province was considering sending a reciprocal business delegation to Maryland and possibly even stationing someone in Baltimore to represent the province's interests in the United States.

When asked by Chinese television reporters about the retirement of Gov. William Donald Schaefer, a big booster of the state's international economic development program, Mr. Wasserman said he was in Anhui to cement the relationship now, before a change of administration.

"The relationship now has a serious constituency of business people and ordinary citizens who will watch over it, regardless of who is in government," Mr. Wasserman said.

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