BART strike could unhinge San Francisco mayor’s well-attended trip to China 

A major San Francisco trade mission to China is scheduled to touch down in Beijing on Monday — but it could arrive without its centerpiece and key attraction, Mayor Ed Lee.

The six-day trip, with stops in Beijing and Shanghai before a few days in South Korea, is billed as Lee’s Trade and Friendship Mission and is his second trip to China as mayor.

Lee is very popular in China and well-known among Chinese investors — and so the trip is a prime opportunity for would-be funders to meet people like trip participant Larry Baer, CEO of the Giants, as the team promotes “opportunities” in its billion-dollar Mission Rock development project.

Lee is also scheduled to attend two Warriors exhibition games. The team is bolstering its brand identity in Asia while seeking to build a new arena on The City’s waterfront that Lee calls his “legacy project.”

Everything could change, however, if BART workers strike for a second time this year, mayoral spokeswoman Christine Falvey said Wednesday.

The earliest a strike could happen is Friday.

A total of 76 people are scheduled to accompany the mayor, including Assemblyman Phil Ting and Supervisor London Breed, and representatives from the Port of San Francisco, San Francisco Zoo and Recreation and Park Department.

BART is also part of the trip, as Director James Fang — whose mother, Florence Fang, will have a building named after her unveiled at Peking University during the visit — is chairman of trip sponsor the San Francisco-Shanghai Sister City Committee.

Two members of the transit agency’s management team are to meet with the operators of the Metro in Beijing and Shanghai — along with officials from Bombardier Transportation, which is building BART’s new fleet of railcars, and Kal Krishnan Consulting, the firm working on BART’s $900 million expansion to San Jose.

Major players in international shipping, including Cosco, will meet with officials from China Harbor Engineering Co., one of the biggest contractors in the world.

That could open up the Port — which has a maritime history that has of late been overshadowed by real estate development — to shipping more “natural resources” to China, Port spokeswoman Renee Dunn Martin said.

The wild card now is Lee’s presence. He could be delayed a few days if BART workers strike.

“If there’s a multiweek strike he’ll have to organize another trip,” Falvey said.

That revelation was a surprise to some trip participants. While San Francisco’s sister-city relationship with Shanghai predates the mayor’s tenure, the absence of the first Chinese-American mayor of a major U.S. city could foul things.


Leaders in education and sports are expected to join captains of finance and real estate on Mayor Ed Lee’s trip to China, where the San Francisco boss is known and liked in influential circles. Included among the 76 guests are:

Larry Baer, CEO of San Francisco Giants

Walter Baczkowski, CEO of San Francisco Association of Realtors

Jeff Johnson, publisher of San Francisco Chronicle

Mary Jung, chair of San Francisco Democratic Party

Lawrence Lui, president of Stanford Hotel Group

Amy Richards, head of Crystal Uplands Spring School

About The Author

Chris Roberts

Chris Roberts

Chris Roberts has worked as a reporter in San Francisco since 2008, with an emphasis on city governance and politics, The City’s neighborhoods, race, poverty and the drug war.
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