China and Alabama – Birmingham Dedicates a Year to China

China and Alabama enjoy a profitable relationship. The Eastern giant is second only to Canada as the state’s biggest export market, valued at $2.5 billion, according to the Alabama Department of Commerce. Now China will shine as the Birmingham International Center’s 2015 Spotlight, the organization announced in late November during an event attended by Yang Song, the Consul for Cultural Affairs from the Chinese Consulate General in Houston.

Each year the center spotlights a different country. The 2015 Spotlight on China will bolster cultural, educational and business ties between Alabama and China. 

Members of the local Chinese community, area school children and representatives from the Alabama Department of Commerce were on hand to welcome the Consul to the event hosted by Altec Inc. Following a reveal of the programs planned for the 2015 Spotlight, the Taichi Fans of Birmingham performed a Chinese Taichi Kungfu Fan Dance for those in attendance.

“The Birmingham International Center’s efforts help us develop a greater understanding, not only of the global society, but of our roles in it, ” said Lee Styslinger III, chairman and CEO of Altec and chair of the 2015 Spotlight. “Whether in the classroom or in business development, the more we know of each other, the fewer barriers we see. Altec is proud to be involved with an initiative that strengthens Alabama’s ties with China and illustrates the significance of international business for our state.”

The Chinese Ambassador to the United States, His Excellency Cui Tainkai, is scheduled to travel to Birmingham for key Spotlight on China events this month.

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Some, but not all, of the official Birmingham International Center Spotlight on China events include:

Ambassador’s Dinner: Jan. 22, 7 p.m. An elegant evening at The Club will honor the ambassador.

Business Roundtable: Jan. 23, 8:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Ambassador Tiankai will lead this business summit, which will draw executives from U.S. corporations doing business in China, and Chinese executives interested in building U.S.-Chinese economic relations. The four industry sectors discussed will be automotive, agriculture, aviation and energy.

Table Tennis Championship: Jan. 31, 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. This daylong USATT sanctioned table tennis event, to be held at the UAB Recreation Center, will draw as many as 65 players from across the state.

“Kreplach & Dim Sum — Yes, There are Jews in China” April 26, 3 p.m. Robyn Helzner will share stories, photos, videos and music to explore the extraordinary history of the Jewish communities in Beijing, Hong Kong, Shanghai and Kaifeng, and in so doing, trace the story of the 36, 000 Jewish refugees of Nazi Germany given sanctuary in China during WWII.

International Women’s Awards Dinner: May 6, 6 p.m. This annual dinner is a celebration of the social, economic and political contributions of women on the world stage. The “Woman of Consequence” award will be presented to a woman from China and a woman of Chinese heritage in the United States.

Complete details on the events and activities above can be found at

Text by Dave Helms

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