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Bond, McCaskill lead entourage back to China to tout 'Big Idea'

Missouri's two members of the U.S. Senate, Republican Christopher "Kit" Bond and Democrat Claire McCaskill, may disagree on most issues -- but are on the same page when it comes to wooing closer business ties with China.

The two are leading a state delegation to China on Sunday. The group will include "government, business and civic leaders along with the Midwest-China Hub Commission," a commission release said today.

The entourage will visit China's capital of Beijing and the booming economic center of Shanghai. The Midwest-China Hub Commission is lobbying China to locate a cargo transit hub at Lambert St. Louis International Airport.

From the release:

"The delegation has arranged a host of meetings, including discussions with the Civil Aviation Administration of China, China Air Transport Association, Chinese airlines, as well as government entities such as the Ministry of Commerce, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, National Development and Reform Commission, Shanghai municipal government, and Shanghai Municipal Commission of Agriculture, among others. Meetings will focus on promoting connections with additional freight forwarders and following up on agreements signed between Missouri and Chinese business interests.

"This bipartisan trip is another critical step on the road to make the Midwest-China Hub a reality and the St. Louis region an even better place to do business,' said Bond. 'With the economy in the slump, now is exactly the right time to be expanding markets for Midwest products and opening up new opportunities for Missourians. On our return I look forward to sharing the progress we are making on a project that will fuel the jobs of the future in the Heartland.'

" 'Opening up Chinese markets for Midwestern products will mean more jobs for people in the St. Louis area and economic growth for the entire region,' McCaskill said. 'We're getting closer to making increased exports from the Midwest to China a reality, and this trip will help move the process forward.' "

This article originally appeared in the St. Louis Beacon.

Jo Mannies has been covering Missouri politics and government for almost four decades, much of that time as a reporter and columnist at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. She was the first woman to cover St. Louis City Hall, was the newspaper’s second woman sportswriter in its history, and spent four years in the Post-Dispatch Washington Bureau. She joined the St. Louis Beacon in 2009. She has won several local, regional and national awards, and has covered every president since Jimmy Carter. She scared fellow first-graders in the late 1950s when she showed them how close Alaska was to Russia and met Richard M. Nixon when she was in high school. She graduated from Valparaiso University in northwest Indiana, and was the daughter of a high school basketball coach. She is married and has two grown children, both lawyers. She’s a history and movie buff, cultivates a massive flower garden, and bakes banana bread regularly for her colleagues.