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Detroit — Business leaders in Michigan want to strengthen the state’s relationship with China in hopes of attracting new investments that will create jobs, officials said during an event Monday in the city.

Michigan officials, including Mayor Mike Duggan, discussed this connection during a luncheon at the Westin Book Cadillac that was part of the first Michigan-China week.

The event, which runs through Wednesday, is being hosted by the Michigan-China Innovation Center. Some 150 business and government officials from China are visiting Michigan to meet with executives and learn more about exports, tourism and other attractions in the state.

Brian Connors, executive director of the Michigan-China Innovation Center in Detroit, said China is the third-largest destination for Michigan exports behind Canada and Mexico. He also noted there are more than 300 Chinese firms in Michigan supporting at least 6,000 jobs.

“We wanted to take the time to specifically showcase the state of Michigan,” Connors said after the luncheon. “And take some of our guests around and show them some of the great assets that we think can continue to be a foundation of our continuing relationship and economic terms with our Chinese partners.”

Michigan has led seven missions in China to attract business investments since 2011, officials say.

The Michigan China Innovation Center was created in 2016 with a state grant as an arm for marketing and business attraction with China.

“At a minimum, it increases understanding on both sides,” Connors said of Michigan-China week. “Specifically, we hope that it may actually spark some concrete cooperation. We are always out there scouring the Chinese market for companies that may have the opportunity to come invest in Michigan and create jobs here.”

Duggan said Detroit is touting its revitalization as a draw for international companies. During the luncheon, he noted that tourists from China were always welcome to visit Detroit.

“Detroit is re-establishing itself as a place to attract investment from around the world,” Duggan said. “China is the world’s most rapidly growing economy, and we want to have a strong relationship.”

nterry@detroitnews.com

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