MANILA — After 14 days of brass bands, motorcycle escorts and meetings with the chief executives of Asian nations and corporations doing business in Los Angeles, Mayor Tom Bradley wrapped up his sixth Asian tour here Sunday, declaring that the four-nation trip had been "a great success."
From discussions in Shanghai that could relieve Los Angeles of hundreds of tons of waste paper every day to talks in Taiwan and Hong Kong that will lead to increased business at the Port of Los Angeles, a tired Mayor Bradley said the trip "definitely will lead to millions of dollars worth of new business--and jobs--for the city.
"And jobs really are the bottom line for a trip like this," the mayor said in an interview in his Manila Hotel suite. "But the main purpose of this trip was to promote business for the Port of Los Angeles."
Bradley, who visited Beijing, Shanghai, Tokyo, Taipei, Hong Kong and Manila during the two-week tour, said his personal presence is critical in arranging meetings between Los Angeles port authorities and Asian government and corporate officials who are senior enough to give commitments for increasing their business.
In Taiwan, for example, Bradley met with an old friend who was the mayor of Taipei during Bradley's first trip to Taiwan in 1977. The former Taipei mayor, Bradley said, is now one of Taiwan's most senior officials.
"I also try to meet with American business interests to see if there's anything that I, as mayor, can do to enhance their activities," Bradley said, adding that on one occasion he passed on a corporate offer to the president of one country he visited and, within months, the deal was signed.
Ambassador for L.A.
"But it was also an opportunity for me to serve as an ambassador, not just for our city of Los Angeles, but for the people who live there," Bradley said.
Nowhere was that role clearer than in Manila. The hundreds of thousands of Filipinos who live in Los Angeles make up the city's largest Asian minority, and even Bradley was struck by the close affinity Philippine officials in Manila feel for the city of Los Angeles.
President Corazon Aquino personally intervened to set up a second meeting with Bradley on Saturday night after the mayor was forced to miss the first one the previous day because his Philippine Airlines flight from Taiwan arrived three hours late.
Vice President Salvador Laurel gave a luncheon party for the mayor on Sunday and invited top leaders of both the political opposition and the ruling government coalition.
Bradley spent most of his time in his first trip to the Philippines with his principal host, Mayor Gemiliano Lopez of Manila, and, in an effort to broaden the ties between their two cities, the two mayors agreed to create a formal exchange program in which students in Los Angeles public schools will trade artwork and essays with Manila school children. And Bradley promised to help Manila police officials who asked for Los Angeles Sheriff's Department training films.
During the interview later, Bradley insisted that his two-day Manila stop was in no way a political move to gain the support of a half million potential voters for next April's mayoral elections. Asked specifically whether there is also political value to such trips, the mayor said flatly, "none whatsoever."
Attention of Aquino
When asked to relate the highlights of his two-week trip, Bradley cited the personal attentiveness of President Aquino and his visit to China.
In Shanghai, he met with paper mill officials and laid the groundwork for a joint venture in which the Chinese will buy up to 750 tons of waste paper from Los Angeles to be recycled into newsprint and other paper products.
"It would relieve our landfill sites and they (the Chinese) really need the paper," Bradley said.
Bradley concluded that his meetings will "definitely" generate millions of dollars in new business at the Port of Los Angeles, which is already the world's largest in net revenues. But he added that it may take two to three years to actually see the direct results of his trip.