One of the largest trade delegations in Washington history convened in Beijing Tuesday to begin a six-day trade mission intended to strengthen educational and business ties between Washington state and the world’s most rapidly growing economy.

Gov. Jay Inslee, who delayed his departure due to a special session and efforts to secure the 777X project, said from Olympia that he’s impressed by both the depth and breadth of interests represented in the delegation.

“If there’s any group of people who can make the case as to why Washington is the best place to invest and do business, it’s this group,” said Inslee. This trip highlights benefits of trade with Washington state, including a world-class talent pool of innovators and builders, high quality export products, one of the largest and closest deep water ports in North America, and an exceptional standard of living.”

Directors of the state departments of Agriculture and Commerce are also participating. Department of Agriculture Director Bud Hover first made a short stop in Japan to meet with Japanese officials regarding a range of agriculture trade issues. Hover and Commerce Director Brian Bonlender will lead many of the trade mission activities. U.S. Ambassador to China Gary Locke, a former two-term governor of Washington, will also help and has agreed to lead key meetings.

Gov. Inslee hopes to join the delegation once 777X negotiations and votes conclude this week.