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Daley Touts Chinese Connections, Promotes High Speed Rail to O'Hare As He Says Goodbye

By Chuck Sudo in News on Apr 12, 2011 7:00PM

Mayor Daley took time out of his farewell tour of all 50 wards yesterday to talk about a recent trip to China he took recently and the relationships Chicago has with China he helped forge during his time in office.

Daley made his comments while announcing that $480,000 in grants would be used to send Chinese-speaking CPS students to China to further their education and allow them to teach students here Chinese. He also announced that he was named co-chair of the State Department's "100,000 Strong Initiative" which will send more students to China.

For Daley, the trip was about more than education and he used it to burnish his legacy as he nears the end of his term.

“The purpose was to raise city of Chicago’s profile as a center of international commerce, increased tourism from China and establish Chicago as the most China-friendly city in the United States of America,” said Daley, calling the trip he made with an entourage of Chicago business leaders the “Chicago-China Friendship Initiative.”

Daley's spoken of the Chinese economy and its infrastructure programs in ways that he usually reserves for privatizing city services or pie in the sky infrastructure plans like high-speed rail to O'Hare. He touched on that yesterday, as well. Daley still thinks it's a good idea and envisions the bullet train running on elevated tracks that wouldn't displace any homes. But he also acknowledged that he has no idea where funding for the project would come from and if Mayor-elect Emanuel would pick up the standard for the project once he's sworn in.