Chinese ambassador to visit Charlotte

China’s ambassador to the U.S. is set to visit Charlotte next week, an event that local groups hope will boost the region’s potential economic ties to China.

Ambassador Cui Tiankai will visit the city Wednesday, Jan. 27. The event, hosted by the Chinese Embassy, is tied to a celebration of the Chinese New Year.

The ambassador is scheduled to attend a reception at the Sheraton hotel uptown and will give a keynote address that evening. He will also meet Gov. Pat McCrory, tour sites in the region and meet local officials.

“North Carolina is an important trading partner … and has a dynamic Chinese community,” the Chinese Embassy said in a statement. “We look forward to more robust growth in trade, investment, tourism, education as well as people-to-people exchanges between China and North Carolina.”

Charlotte Mayor Jennifer Roberts said the visit offers a chance to show Chinese investors and officials a city they might not be familiar with but that has compatible industries, such as finance, advanced manufacturing and energy.

“There’s this untapped potential from the Chinese perspective,” she said.

North Carolina has sent two trade delegations to China recently in an attempt to boost ties with the world’s second-largest economy. Although the Chinese economy has been growing less rapidly, a slowdown that has sent shock waves through the world’s stock markets, the country has hundreds of millions of middle-class consumers and huge amounts of capital available to invest.

The Carolinas Chinese Chamber of Commerce, a group of local business owners, footed the bill last summer to send North Carolina officials to China. The group’s president, Richard Yang, said at the time that Charlotte needs to pay more attention to China to seize business opportunities.

“We pay enough attention to Europe,” said Yang, who founded the Carolinas Chinese Chamber in 2012. “If we don’t have enough communication with China, we’ll lose our golden opportunity.”

Ely Portillo: 704-358-5041, @ESPortillo