A delegation of Chinese businessmen and government officials want to visit Indiana’s Elkhart County this fall, and Elkhart County’s commissioners are interested in helping to make that happen.
The Goshen News reported that during a meeting of the Elkhart County Board of Commissioners Monday (July 8), the commissioners approved a request by Aaron Zou of Aaron, MacGregor & Associates, an Elkhart-based exporter of RVs to China, to have the board write a letter of invitation for the delegation. Zou hopes the letter will help expedite their entry into the country this September.
“There is a group of visitors in China, including government officials and businessmen, interested in coming to Elkhart to visit,” Zou told the board Monday. “The main reason is RV-related. RV’s are getting more and more popular in China, and they realize that Elkhart is the RV Capital of the World, so they expressed a desire to visit. It is their desire to have the County Commissioners send an invitation letter out to them so they can start the process of getting their passports and visas to enter the United States.”
According to County Commissioner Terry Rodino, such requests are fairly typical when involving business and government officials from other countries, as such letters of support can often mean the difference between a denial of entry and an approval.
“This is pretty much standard procedure to get them invited in,” Rodino said. “This just helps expedite it, coming from county officials, to help speed up their process with visas and what have you, for leaving China and coming to America.”
“The delegation from China has Chinese government officials, so the county invitation letter will be appropriate to start that process,” Zou said. “And there is a slight chance that their visas may be denied by the U.S. Consulate, so the County Commissioners invitation letter would be a stronger indorsement for their visit.”
According to a the Goshen News, Monday’s meeting is reportedly not the first between Rodino and Zou.
Back in March of this year, Rodino’s former business partners, Amit Shah and Tim Dugle, filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in South Bend claiming Rodino used his position of authority to profit from a Chinese business deal. Rodino touched on the subject briefly during Monday’s meeting before introducing Zou’s request for a letter of invitation.
“Based upon some of the things that have happened over the last year or so about some comments about the Chinese,” Rodino said, “we just want to kind of make this as transparent as possible.”
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