SIOUX CITY -- Business and fun are both on the agenda for the Siouxland Chamber of Commerce's first-of-its-kind trip to China this November.
Katy Karrer, the Chamber's director of events, said the organization has wanted to coordinate trip abroad for some years, as Chambers in some other communities often do. If this China excursion goes well, Karrer said "we would definitely consider doing it again."
"We've been wanting to do a trip for a long time, and finally just decided we're going to do it," Karrer said. "And the biggest push was because the U.S. Ambassador to China is former Gov. Terry Branstad. And so that made it very appealing to us."
Chamber officials have requested a meeting with Branstad at the U.S. Embassy in Beijing.
In addition to the capital city of Beijing, the local delegation will visit Shanghai, Suzhou and Hangzhou, and tour historical sites that include the Great Wall, Tiananmen Square, the Temple of Heaven, the Forbidden City and Ming Tombs.
The trip, open to Chamber members and non-members, costs $2,499. It covers everything except the cost of travel to Chicago O'Hare International Airport, the visa application fee and a $39 gratuity. The Chamber is partnering with a travel agency, Citslinc International, Inc.
Besides sightseeing, travelers will get a chance to make business contacts in China.
"There is an optional Chinese-American business networking conference available, at no extra charge," Karrer said.
Barbara Sloniker, the Chamber's executive vice president, said the group is also planning to visit a jade factory and a silk factory, both distinctly Chinese products.
SIOUX CITY -- There was a time when Dallas-based Anthony Properties was primarily in the business of building movie theaters.
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Sloniker said the trip would help attendees "have a more global look at the world," while those who go on the trip would have a chance to network with one another.
"Even once you come back to the United States after the trip, then it's like, 'Oh, I met so-and-so on the China trip, and we went to Tiananmen Square together,'" she said. "When you travel with people, you really get to know a lot of their personality."
Tiananmen Square is a town square in the center of Beijing covering an area of more than 100 acres. In 1989, it was the site of the Tiananmen Square incident -- a series of demonstrations against the Chinese government.
Chamber officials say the trip also affords an opportunity to visit other world-famous historical sites.
The Great Wall of China was built as a defense against invaders in phases as early as the 7th century B.C.E.
Beijing's Forbidden City, built in the 15th century, was the seat of the ruling Ming Dynasty between 1420 and 1644. From 1644 to 1912, it was the seat of the Qing Dynasty.
The Ming Tombs complex is the resting place of 13 Ming Dynasty emperors buried in mausoleums there from the 15th through 17th centuries. The 46-square-mile site is northwest of Beijing, at the base of the Tianshou Mountain.
The Temple of Heaven is a centuries-old religious complex in Beijing. It is considered the most representative work of numerous sacrificial buildings in China.
Though the issue could be resolved before the group arrives in China, the Chamber's China trip preparations coincide with ongoing trade tensions between the U.S. and China. In Iowa, farmers and producers of agricultural products have struggled as the country has used retaliatory tariffs to close its market.
Still, Sloniker remained optimistic about Northwest Iowa-China relations.
"One of the reasons that China seemed to make the most sense (when) we're going to do this the first time, you know, China's a huge trading partner with the United States," she said. "We sort of have a friend in China with (former) governor-slash-ambassador Branstad."