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1st Chinese cargo flight lands in St. Louis, U.S.

(Shanghai Daily)

13:50, September 24, 2011

ST. LOUIS, the United States, Sept. 23 (Xinhua) -- The first cargo flight from China which departed from Shanghai landed in Missouri state's St. Louis Lambert International Airport Friday, marking the establishment of a link between China's financial hub and the U.S. heartlands.

At 3:55 PM U.S. central time (2155 GMT), the Boeing 777 landed and was met at the runway by a water cannon salute, the flowing arcs resembling St.Louis's landmark, the Gateway Arch.

Both American and Chinese notables including Chinese Consul General to Chicago Yang Guoqiang and St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay attended the welcoming ceremony and expressed their confidence that the two countries would both benefit from the new aviation connection.

With the trade value of the two countries reaching nearly 400 billion U.S. dollars, "one or two or three or multi air cargo hubs are not enough. We need more," Yang said in his speech.

Yang said he hopes St. Louis can soon become a link in China's foreign trade routes, which will "facilitate Chinese investors to come over to the Midwest and create more job opportunities, to create more market consumption."

Richard Fleming, president of the St. Louis Regional Chamber and Growth Association, which helped secure this business opportunity, also expressed the hope that St. Louis' new connection to China would extend beyond the economic realm.

"We think this is the beginning of what could be a flourishing relationship, not only in aviation and cargo ... but also in a blossoming of commercial and cultural and educational relationships as well," Fleming told Xinhua.

"While we're focused here today on the beginning of an aviation relationship, I think the opportunity here is the relationship between St. Louis and Shanghai, initially, and really all of China," he said.

For the past few years, both Missouri and Chinese officials have worked to establish the cargo route, also pushing a bill in the Missouri state legislature to provide 60 million dollars in tax incentives to stimulate the growth of shipping in the region as well as creating new jobs.

China Cargo, the airline managing the trans-Pacific aviation route, currently plans to run weekly flights between Shanghai and St. Louis, with officials seeking to boost the frequency to three shipments a week before the U.S. holiday season.

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