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Hahn Signs Business Deals in China

The contracts will allow L.A. firms to bid on billions in construction work needed for the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing.

November 21, 2002|Beth Shuster | Times Staff Writer

BEIJING — Los Angeles Mayor James K. Hahn, leading a delegation of business executives -- some of whom helped defeat Hollywood and San Fernando Valley secession efforts this month -- on Wednesday helped open doors to China that may benefit those and other L.A. businesses.

Under two agreements signed here between the Chinese capital and the city of Los Angeles, Southern California companies will have the opportunity to bid on construction and other projects in this sprawling city, particularly in advance of the 2008 Summer Olympic Games.

The Chinese government is expected to spend about $23 billion to prepare for the Games, including $7 billion just on infrastructure improvements and additions.

The agreements signed by Hahn make it possible for Los Angeles construction, design, engineering and architectural firms to work on such projects as the Beijing airport expansion, housing facilities, hotels, stadiums and road and traffic improvements, among others.

"The better the relationships here, the better the trade, the more it benefits us in Los Angeles," said a beaming Ray Landy, president of the DMJM architectural and engineering firm in Los Angeles. "There's a lot of work to be done in China."

DMJM donated $40,000 to L.A. United, the organization created by Hahn to fight secession by the Valley and Hollywood. City voters overwhelmingly rejected those two breakup proposals Nov. 5.

Jack Baylis, vice president of CH2MHILL, said his firm already works in China, and helped the Beijing government to prepare the environmental portion of its application to host the Summer Games. But he said a trip like this, where the mayor provides entree with the government, could help Los Angeles companies that try to win other contracts.

CH2MHILL gave $20,000 to L.A. United. The engineering company HNTB gave the mayor's anti-secession campaign $100,000; the firm's vice president, Edward McSpedon, is traveling with Hahn.

Some of the companies that are represented in Hahn's delegation also do business in Los Angeles, and the trip provides them with the opportunity to spend time the mayor and other city officials, including City Council President Alex Padilla and Council members Eric Garcetti and Janice Hahn. The general managers of the harbor and the Department of Water and Power also are accompanying the mayor on this trip.

Baylis and others said it is helpful to hear the plans of the mayor and council members, particularly as company executives consider whether to bid on city projects.

In an interview, Hahn said he chose executives from companies that already have some business in Asia, giving them experience to draw on as they seek to expand their operations in this part of the world. The executives were not invited as payback, he added, but rather as a way of helping the Los Angeles economy by expanding opportunities for local companies to prosper abroad.

Miguel Contreras, the head of the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor who also is traveling with the mayor, said he did not know how the executives were selected, but he added that it's clear that they could have an advantage when it comes to working in Beijing.

Airport Commissioner Leland Wong and others said there is nothing wrong with giving Los Angeles companies a leg up; it ultimately helps the city, he said.

In addition to the potential benefits to Los Angeles companies, an agreement signed here today with Beijing Capital Airport Group Corp. could enable the Los Angeles airport department to be a consultant on expansion plans here.

Li Pei Ying, president of the Beijing Capital Airport Group, said he has been impressed with the way Los Angeles International has handled increases in passenger and cargo traffic.

Under an agreement between the two cities' airports, senior officials will meet at least once a year to share expertise.

Philip Depoian, deputy executive director of Los Angeles World Airports, said the agreement with China on the Olympics also calls for the city to play a role as the gateway city for travelers to the Games.

LAX is the only U.S. airport where three Chinese airlines have hubs."This is a good opportunity for marketing," Depoian said after the mayors of the cities signed the agreement at the historic Beijing Hotel.

Hahn flew on to Tokyo today to promote tourism in Los Angeles. He will stop in Shanghai, Hong Kong and Taipei before heading home.

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