SALT LAKE CITY, United States, Nov. 3 (Xinhua) -- Though the U.S. western state of Utah missed out on the first China International Import Expo (CIIE) last year, it is preparing for a strong debut this year given the huge potential for developing trade ties with China, lawmakers said.
"This is probably one of the most important things that we needed to do this year as a state in our relationship with China," Utah representative Eric Hutchings, who is heading to the annual expo to be held in Shanghai on Nov. 5-10, told Xinhua.
Hutchings, who speaks Chinese and surrounds himself with China-themed ornaments in his office, noted that Utah has rich mineral and energy resources, and is strong in tech, outdoor recreation and health sectors.
"A lot of people don't realize that the University of Utah is number one for new patents two years in a row," followed by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, he added.
Better known for its Great Salt Lake and host of the 2002 Winter Olympics, Utah is one of the U.S. states with the most extensive ties with China.
In 2006, the Utah legislature established cooperation with China's Liaoning Provincial People's Congress. The state also introduced a pioneering language program that allowed grade school students to learn Chinese in an immersive environment.
Utah Senator Jacob Anderegg, who is also part of the delegation, said he hoped to set up ties with Chinese companies and officials during his trip to lay the foundation of future cooperation.
"We have specifically targeted about eight companies that we want to have an engagement," Anderegg said.
Both lawmakers downplayed the impact of China-U.S. trade tensions on cooperation at the local level, saying there can be a more pragmatic approach in dealing with China.
"Attending the expo and having these engagements are critical because the trade war that is happening between the Trump administration and China is not going to last forever," Anderegg said.
"It would be really silly for us not to take advantage of areas where China is really strong and be able to have partnerships," Hutchings said.
Quoting a Chinese saying that "All that in the world are brothers", Hutchings said the same goes for China and the United States.
"Sometimes family has disagreements, sometimes brothers don't get along. But they are still family and they will still be there to help each other and support each other," he said.