SHANGHAI - Presiding over the opening of a foreign trade office here Friday, Gov. Jerry Brown suggested his family participated in a far more significant event in the improvement of U.S.-China relations - or what the governor called "the Brown family's contribution to the Shanghai CommuniquÃ©."
"As we open and look to the future, it's well that we keep grounded in the past," Brown said. "And as I was sitting there looking at 2013, I couldn't help but think of 1972, when Richard Nixon signed the Shanghai CommuniquÃ© that broke the logjam and opened the doors of friendship between China and the United States."
Ten years before Nixon made his historic visit to China and signed the diplomatic paper, he ran unsuccessfully for governor of California.
"He was unsuccessful because my father beat him," Brown said, causing a roomful of Chinese and American businesspeople to burst into laughter. "But that was not the end of Richard Nixon. He decided to leave California and move to New York, where a few years later he became president. And then as president, he was the first American to break so many years of antagonism and going against so much of the political thinking in America at that time to sign the Shanghai CommuniquÃ©."
The trade office's opening was a central event of Brown's week-long trade mission to China. The Democratic governor is seeking to lure Chinese investment into the Golden State. The privately-funded office is California's first official presence in China since the state closed its 12 trade offices amid controversy in 2003.
"I would like to think in just a small way," Brown said, "that we are continuing that history of breaking new ground, opening doors and recognizing that while different, China and America, we still have certain key elements in common."
PHOTO CREDIT: Gov. Jerry Brown speaks at an event celebrating the opening of a trade office in Shanghai on Friday, April 12, 2013. David Siders / Sacramento Bee