Mayor Rahm Emanuel is in China to promote Chicago business opportunities on a trip paid for by the city's economic development agency.
During the two-day trip that wraps up Monday, Emanuel is expected to sign an economic partnership agreement with eight Chinese cities, mayoral spokeswoman Sarah Hamilton said Sunday.
The mayor's schedule also includes speaking to students at Tsinghua University in Beijing, meeting with government officials and attending a luncheon hosted by Choose Chicago, the city's tourism and convention agency.
World Business Chicago is paying for Emanuel's trip, Hamilton said. The group, which gets some of its funding from the city, is a nonprofit that Emanuel chairs. The group aims to lead the city's business development efforts.
Hamilton and a World Business Chicago spokeswoman said they did not have cost estimates for the trip.
Joining Emanuel is Michael Sacks, leader of a Chicago hedge fund and a major fundraiser for the mayor. Sacks, who is vice chairman of World Business Chicago, frequently has been the only private citizen in the mayor's office for meetings on topics ranging from the budget and pension reform to building a downtown sports stadium.
In January, Sacks and former White House chief of staff Bill Daley went to China to pitch officials on doing business in Chicago.
Emanuel has hosted Chinese delegations in Chicago, including the country's vice minister of commerce, Wang Chao, and last month, Vice Premier Liu Yandong.
Also on the trip with Emanuel are local China-based representatives from Caterpillar, Motorola Solutions and Hyatt International, among others, a spokeswoman said.
It's the second international trip in two months for Emanuel. World Business Chicago also paid for the mayor's November trip to Mexico City, where he signed an economic partnership agreement designed to help the cities work together to build exports and foreign investment.
Like the agreement Emanuel signed in Mexico City, the latest contract, dubbed the Gateway Cities Agreement between Chicago and the Chinese Ministry of Commerce, does not include any financial commitments, Hamilton said. The Chinese cities involved are Beijing, Shanghai, Tianjin, Qingdao, Shenyang, Hangzhou, Wuhan and Chengdu.
The economic partnership agreement aims to foster city-to-city promotion and regular talks about trade, investment and cooperation on projects. The idea is to build relationships and eventually strike deals in China, which has a growing economy as the nation modernizes.
"This will further advance Chicago as a destination for tourism, business and transportation and demonstrates this administration's commitment to being the most China-friendly city in the world," Emanuel said in a statement.
Before Emanuel took office, former Mayor Richard M. Daley took trips on World Business Chicago's tab, including visits to Moscow and the United Arab Emirates.
After the China trip, Emanuel is expected to join his family on vacation in Indonesia, a trip Hamilton said the family is covering.