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Gov. Brown starts trade mission to China

Gov. Jerry Brown begins a weeklong trade mission to China today in a bid to reclaim the state's reputation as a global economic powerhouse and innovator.

While abroad, Brown plans to sign pacts forging government research partnerships and limiting Chinese greenhouse gas emissions. He'll announce deals involving California clean-technology companies -- including electric vehicle makers and a firm that converts trash to electricity -- and reinforce his mantra that good environmental policy is good economics.

But mostly, Brown hopes the trip will translate into Chinese money for California.

"We're going to facilitate billions of dollars of investments," the governor predicted during a speech in Sacramento last week. "Not overnight, but over time."

Ninety business leaders and nine state officials are accompanying Brown on the visit. Former Rep. Doug Bosco, who lives in Santa Rosa, is the sole Sonoma County resident in the delegation.

In a phone interview from Bejing on Monday, Bosco said he is interested in promoting Sonoma County's wine industry. He said he has invited a delegation of Chinese business leaders to tour Sonoma County's wine industry later this year.

Bosco said he also shares Brown's focus on environmental technologies.

"China has lots of ideas on the subject," said Bosco, who is an investor in Sonoma Media Investments, which owns The Press Democrat.

Bosco has visited China several times in recent decades and said the increasing prosperity, and Americanizing of consumer tastes, is easy to see.

"Wine lists are much more intricate than they used to be," he said. "You used to be lucky to get a glass of wine; now you're presented with two or three pages."

The governor's primary focus on the trip will be dollars and cents. According to figures from China's Ministry of Commerce, that country's investment abroad reached $77.6 billion last year -- a sixfold increase since 2005. By the end of the decade, some predict, the figure will triple.

California has lagged in attracting that money. A study by the Asia Society estimates that $1.3 billion in Chinese money was invested in the state in 2011. Brown is eager for much more.

He wants the Chinese to help fund California's $68 billion bullet-train project, for example. But competition for China's money is intense, with governments and corporate leaders jockeying for favor.

"There is a heightened focus on inbound investment to California," said Jim Wunderman, president and chief executive of the Bay Area Council, which is sponsoring the governor's trip and is hoping to raise $1 million to keep a new California trade office open in China.

Press Democrat Staff Writer Sean Scully and the Los Angeles Times contributed to this report.

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