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Pataki trip to China nets state trade office

Gov. George E. Pataki on Thursday billed his trip to China as "enormously successful" but announced only one firm commitment coming out of the nearly completed journey: New York State will open a trade office in China.

Traveling with executives from a dozen New York companies and a dozen state officials, aides and security staff, Pataki beamed live video of himself from Shanghai over the Internet to a gathering of reporters at the state Capitol.

He hailed the trade mission as "very productive," featuring sessions with Chinese government officials and business leaders, American diplomats and more than 300 meetings for the New York executives accompanying him.

While he said he is optimistic the trip will help push along plans for a Chinese business center in lower Manhattan, the sole tangible result so far is the new trade office.

"There's no question we will be opening a permanent New York trade office in China," Pataki said.

The governor's plans come a week after his top economic development adviser, Charles Gargano, who is accompanying him on the trip, downplayed any talk of a New York trade office in China, saying such matters could be handled by the state's present office in Tokyo.

Pataki said that during meetings with Chinese officials, he also raised issues of human rights in China and concerns over piracy of intellectual property. China has become the main focus in the fight over the theft of U.S. copyright and trademark properties, a problem that especially hits the entertainment, computer and manufacturing industries.

But the governor acknowledged his limited powers on the international issue. "I didn't expect the governor of New York to be able to change the policy of the Chinese government," he said.

The governor's trip ends today. Taxpayers are funding the expenses of the governor and the 11 aides accompanying him.

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