SHANGHAI, Aug. 2 (Xinhua) -- Shanghai's acceptance of its gay community shows its people's openness and entrepreneurship, Houston's openly gay mayor said in the east China metropolis Monday.
"Shanghainese and Houstonians are similar. They care about what you do, not who you are," said Annise Parker, the first openly gay mayor of a major U.S. city.
"To boost development, a city needs to be open to a full range of people, especially the innovative ones who break barriers, like people of the gay community," Parker said at Houston Day in the USA Pavilion at the Shanghai World Expo.
The gay community is becoming more recognized in China, but remains highly stigmatized. Shanghai is among the most gay-accepting cities in China. In June 2009, the city hosted China's first gay pride festival.
"What Houston and Shanghai have in common is the growth-oriented entrepreneurial altitude," said Parker, who is leading a 60-strong delegation of Houston business people.
The visit is Parker's first trip abroad since she assumed office in January. "It shows how we value our relationship with Shanghai," she said.
But she did not have many figures or examples to prove how important Shanghai was to Houston in terms of trade and economic cooperation. "I think it's like planting seeds. We need to wait and see it grow."
As an example of Houston's determination to strengthen ties with Shanghai, Parker told Xinhua that her city was planning to launch a direct air link between the two cities.
"We are negotiating with some Chinese airliners and expect to launch the flight next spring." But she declined to give more details.
Special Report: World Expo 2010