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City hopes China ties pay off
It has been a while since any Brunswick city official has traveled to China on a business-development trip, but that's OK, says Brunswick Mayor Bryan Thompson.

Thompson says he maintains regular contact with officials in Jiangxi province and surrounding areas city officials visited, and that the relationships created are still priorities.

The sister city program was started in the 1950s by the federal government to educate individuals about other cultures, Thompson said, but it's always been about business for Brunswick.

The last time a city official here went to China was October 2011.

"We've approached this from the beginning from an economic standpoint," Thompson said.

Brunswick's Chinese partners are serious about developing economic ties, said Thompson, who will leave city office at the end of December.

"This is not something that happens overnight," Thompson said, acknowledging that distance and language barriers pose challenges.

It's not easy cultivating a strong relationship between municipal governments halfway around the world from one another.

Some Chinese officials that Brunswick leaders originally maintained contact with have been promoted within the government, making it difficult to keep clear lines of communication open.

Still, Thompson is confident that the partnership will eventually lead to tangible results.

"I'm very confident that we're going to see growth here," Thompson said.

City Manager Bill Weeks agrees.

"China is becoming a major player in the world as they continue with their trade enterprises," Weeks said. "What comes out of it is a relationship that will provide dividends in the future."

* Reporter Nikki Wiley writes about government, business and other local topics. Contact her at, on Facebook or at 265-8320, ext. 321.

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