A Boeing 777-300ER of China Eastern Airlines arrived at O'Hare International Airport of U.S. Midwest city of Chicago Friday, inaugurating direct flight of the Chinese airline between Shanghai and Chicago. Chicago gave the maiden flight a warm welcome featuring a water cannon salute and a ribbon cutting ceremony.
Speaking at the ceremony, Ginger Evans, Commissioner of Chicago Department of Aviation, said the direct flight service launched by China Eastern will strengthen Chicago's connectivity to China and furthers Chicago Mayor Rahm Emmanuel's vision to increase tourism to China. "The addition of China Eastern service will generate an additional 175 million U.S. dollars in annual economic impact for the Chicago region," she added. With more direct flights with China, "Chicago will play a more important role in promoting the people-to-people exchanges and practical cooperation in various areas between China and the U.S.," said Chinese Consul General in Chicago Zhao Weiping.
Dong Bo, Chief Marketing Officer of China Eastern, recalled the friendship between Shanghai and Chicago as sister cities since 1985. As the year 2016 marks China-U.S. Tourism Year, "China Eastern has set up a new bridge connecting the two great cities, which will provide true and important convenience for the communication and cooperation in various fields for the passengers," he said.
China Eastern's flight between Shanghai and Chicago will be a daily service. With the new one added, Chicago now has six direct flights reaching Chinese mainland and Hong Kong SAR, linking U.S. Midwest closer with China.
Statistics of U.S. Commerce Department showed trade volume between China and the nine states in U.S. Midwest reached 92.643 billion U.S. dollars in 2015. More than 160 Chinese companies, including such big names as Wanxiang, Wanda, Lenovo and ZTE, have invested in U.S. Midwest, and their total investment, according to statistics of U.S. Rhodium Group, has exceeded 11 billion U.S. dollars. These Chinese companies have employed more than 40,000 local workers.
China Railway Rolling Stock Corporation (CRRC), the world's biggest train maker by revenue, is a new comer on the list of Chinese companies investing in U.S. Midwest. The Chinese railcar maker won a 1.3-billion-U.S. dollar order early this month, and will build a new railcar assembly facility in Chicago, the first of its kind in 35 years. The order is expected to create around 169 new jobs for Chicago.
Chicago's cooperation with China in cultural and tourism areas has also flourished. China's Terracotta Warriors now on exhibition at the Field Museum will last 10 months; Chicago Art Museum has launched a "monkeying around" program to celebrate Chinese lunar New Year this year, putting on display some monkey paintings from ancient China; and Chinese New Year Concert has become an annual event for three running years.
In order to attract more Chinese tourists, Chicago is the first city in the United States to host Chinese New Year celebrations in the name of the city government. Chicago Mayor Emanuel aims to grow the celebration year by year until it becomes "the largest Chinese New Year celebration of any city in North America." Headquartered in Shanghai, China Eastern Airlines is one of the top three airlines in mainland China. It serves nearly 80 million travelers annually and ranks among the world's top five airlines in terms of passenger transportation volume.