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Daley’s Retirement Will Have Chinese Flavor

Mayor Daley shows a scrapbook from his recent trip to China. (Credit: Craig Dellimore/Newsradio 780)

Mayor Daley shows a scrapbook from his recent trip to China. (Credit: Craig Dellimore/Newsradio 780)

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CHICAGO (CBS) – Life after City Hall for Mayor Daley is starting to look like it will have a distinct Asian influence.

The exiting mayor has just been named a national co-chair of the president’s “100,000 Strong Initiative” to promote American students studying in China.

LISTEN: Newsradio 780’s Craig Dellimore Reports

CBS 2 Chief Correspondent Jay Levine says Daley’s task could pay dividends here in Chicago.

Mayor Daley has been pretty coy about his future plans. But it’s pretty clear they’ll include China and helping local business leaders attract investment, including the high-profile project he’s been talking about for some time.

The 200 mph “mag-lev” train from Shanghai Airport to the outskirts of China’s 17 million-citizen metropolis covers 18 miles in 7 minutes. Could something like this be headed for O’Hare?

Right now it’s just a dream. Reality, if it really happens, is still years away — though the route and type of right of way are pretty well set.

“This will be elevated, and we know the two routes they’ve been looking at,” Daley said at an appearance Monday.

The mayor has been to China a number of times since his first visit in 2004, promoting Chicago business and tourism. He’s worked hard to make Chicago the most China-friendly city in the U.S., an effort that has paid dividends, including the historic visit earlier this year by China’s president and investment from major corporations.

Daley, who’s pushed Chinese language classes in Chicago Public Schools, has now been named co-chair of the president’s program to have 100,000 U.S. Americans studying in China by 2014. He also announced nearly $500,000 in grants for Chinese language and culture programs.

After leaving office, Daley said he would assist the city with anything it needs regarding a relationship with China. But he stopped short of saying he’ll be an ambassador.

“No, I’m not an ambassador. We have ambassadors appointed by the Secretary of State,” the mayor said.

Beyond that, he’s not talking about his plans after leaving office.

“I’m not gonna tell you what I’m gonna do (after) May 16,” Daley said.