CONTACT: Kassy Kelley
June 19, 1998
(202) 224-6101


WASHINGTON -- U.S. Senator Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) has accepted President Clinton's invitation to join the official U.S. Delegation to China. The Delegation, including the President, First Lady and select members of Congress, will depart on an historic nine-day trip to China on June 24th. This will be the first state visit by an American President to China this decade. Specific details of Rockefeller's itinerary, which will include official events as well as meetings relating to potential economic and trade opportunities, will be made available shortly before the Senator's departure.

"I am extremely honored to have been asked by the President to represent our country in China," said Rockefeller. "I have always had a great interest in Asia, and I've worked over the years to turn that interest into opportunities for my state. Now, I have a chance to be part of a diplomatic mission that will benefit not only our country, but also West Virginia. Building a strong, stable and open relationship with China is critical for a more peaceful world, and it's essential for West Virginia as part of the emerging global economy of the 21st Century."
The President and the Delegation depart Andrews Air Force Base at noon on Wednesday, June 24th and arrive Thursday evening (EST) in Xi'an, China, where they stay until Friday night when they travel to Beijing. The group will be in Beijing through Monday, June 29th and then depart for Shanghai. They will spend Thursday July 2nd in Guilin and take off that evening for their last stop in Hong Kong. The travels wrap up on Friday, July 3rd, and the group is expected back in Washington on the Fourth of July.

In January, for the first time in 25 years, Rockefeller visited China and began laying the groundwork for business relations between West Virginia and China. On that trip, Rockefeller helped Don Gallion, President and CEO of FCX Systems, Inc. in Morgantown, land a contract with a major Chinese airline. Rockefeller believes that a relationship between West Virginia and China will open new export markets for many West Virginia entrepreneurs.

"My trip in January was very preliminary, but very successful," said Rockefeller. "I will build on that foundation while I'm in China with the President. While much of the trip will be scheduled with the Delegation's official business, I plan to take full advantage of any free time to build relationships and seek further opportunities for our state's businesses. Opening China's doors for West Virginia exports opens the doors of 1.2 billion consumers in one of the world's fastest growing economies."

Every year Rockefeller visits Asia, establishing relationships with government officials and business leaders and seeking economic development opportunities for West Virginia. The Senator has led two "Project Harvest" trade missions to Japan and Taiwan, and fifteen reverse trade missions, bringing business executives from Asia to West Virginia.

Rockefeller, a Member of the U.S. Senate Finance Subcommittee on International Trade, has a long history with Asia. In college, Rockefeller majored in Far Eastern Languages and History at Harvard and traveled to Japan, where he concentrated on Japanese for three years at International Christian University in Tokyo. When he returned from Japan, Rockefeller studied the Chinese language at Yale.