Spotlight: Innovation set to propel U.S. city Austin's ties with China - Xinhua |

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AUSTIN, the United States, March 12 (Xinhua) -- The southern U.S. city of Austin is seeking to expand its relations with China, welcoming, with arms wide open, exchanges and cooperation opportunities in education, innovation and beyond.

"Our relationship with China has really accelerated recently," Austin Mayor Steve Adler told Xinhua on the sidelines of the ongoing South by Southwest (SXSW) Conference and Festivals.

Historically, the relationship between Austin, the state capital of Texas, and China had primarily been through educational exchanges, according to Adler.

This changed when the city began to bring in more technology companies, and as a result, a lot more people from China. "As we have moved forward now, there's a lot more interaction that goes beyond that, with companies, with innovation platforms," the mayor said.

Adler said he is planning a second trip to China this year. "We are trying very hard to build relationships between Austin companies and Austinites, and Chinese companies and Chinese people," he said.

A Chinese delegation of more than 100 people, twice the size of that last year, came to this year's SXSW, a signature event in Austin which gathers innovators and entrepreneurs from across the globe to breed and fund new ideas.

Chinese companies, including e-commerce giant Alibaba Group, sent innovators to inspire others with their design ideas and get inspired.

China has an increasingly large presence at the SXSW, and as the whole festival is growing more and more international, Chinese involvement is a big part of that, Adler said.

"Chinese delegations now are creating quite a storm and quite an excitement, just because of the size of the delegations, the interest in sharing new technologies, new innovations and new platforms, investing Chinese companies here in Austin as well as opening up Chinese markets for businesses in Austin to be able to flourish with," he said.

Austin has been growing rapidly and earned itself a reputation as one of the most innovative cities in the United States. It is home to 46 incubators and a great many tech giants, such as Dell, according to city officials.

"Austin boasts great ideas and environment for innovation, which is hugely attractive to Chinese companies," Chinese Consul General in Houston Li Qiangmin said Friday after an event held on the sidelines of the SXSW to promote Chengdu, capital city of southwestern China's Sichuan Province.

Both "forward-looking," Austin and Chengdu are "cities that are technology and innovation centers," Adler said, adding that different kinds of relationships could hopefully be forged between the two.

"Conversations and meetings like this will lead to science city, friendship city kinds of relationship. That is in our future," he said.

"The delegation from Chengdu is the largest ever we've received from a Chinese city," the Austin mayor added, commending the delegations from China as "a very significant part of what makes SXSW very special."

There is a great deal of interaction going on between Austin and China, the Chinese consul general said, citing the "big investment" Dell has made in Chengdu and several other Chinese cities.

More and more people, companies and cities in China are willing to seek cooperation with Austin, he noted.