WATERFORD — Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson and the mayor of Hai’an, China today signed a memorandum of understanding that could open the door for future investment, educational opportunities and cultural exchanges between Oakland County and the Chinese city.
Patterson and Hai’an Mayor Lu Weidong signed the agreement as Patterson hosted a breakfast for the mayor and his delegation at the Iroquois Club in Bloomfield Hills.
The relationship between Oakland County and Hai’an has developed over two years as officials from each side have visited the other country several times. Today’s signing is the Chinese national government’s endorsement of the partnership.
“Our trips to China are already paying dividends,” Patterson said. “An Oakland County-based company is expanding its business and building a plant in Hai’an.”
The company, Magni, is an auto supplier with its corporate office in Birmingham. A representative from the company attended the breakfast.
Oakland County officials have been cultivating the relationship with Hai’an for more than two years. Deputy County Executive Matthew Gibb has traveled there several times and Hai’an officials have been to Oakland County four times.
“For the past two years the delegation from Hai’an has been our most frequent international guest,” Patterson said. “They have been here four times in the past two years. I’ve heard it said that when we meet for the first time, we’re acquaintances. Our second meeting, we become friends. After our third meeting, we become old friends. And with this, our sixth meeting, we’ve become like family.”
Patterson said Hai’an is similar in many ways to Oakland County, has about 1 million people and is poised for rapid development.