U.S. State and Local Officials Eye China Despite Trade Tension

  • 来源:北京周报
  • 关键字:Kentucky Cabinet ,evelopment,China
  • 发布时间:2019-10-21 23:29

  The Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development’s plan to lead a business development trip to China is the latest sign of U.S. state and local officials’ unwavering enthusiasm to enhance cooperation despite simmering trade tension between the world’s two largest economies.

  “As we continue to build relationships with Chinese businesses and seek investment opportunities, we are executing our long-term strategy to tap into the enormous opportunities that exist in China,” Vivek Sarin, the agency’s Interim Secretary, said in a statement. “We are confi dent that this will lead to more jobs for Kentuckians.”

  Sarin is certainly not alone. Many state and local officials with a more pragmatic attitude have expressed their continued interest in boosting cooperation with China in the areas of the economy, culture, education and beyond, injecting positive momentum into bilateral relations facing headwinds.

  The most important thing for subnational leaders is the business of moving their state forward regarding jobs and prosperity, making sure that every citizen has an opportunity to participate in the economy, and that’s the motivation for their relentless efforts in seeking cooperation with China, said Reta Jo Lewis, senior fellow and Director of Congressional Affairs at the German Marshall Fund of the United States.

  The negative factors at the national level, however, have trickled down to other levels, raising concerns among officials, the business community and the general public.Kate Brown, Governor of Oregon, recently said that what is happening nationally has had a “chilling effect” on commodity prices and the northwest state’s ability to sell goods to China. “It’s been extremely detrimental, particularly in the agricultural sector, which is a huge driver of the Oregon economy,” Brown said at a panel discussion held by the Brookings Institution in late July.

  When asked whether Midwest farmers are worried about losing the Chinese market permanently, former Missouri Governor Bob Holden said that he thinks they are very afraid. “If that relationship with China and others disappears for the agriculture community, then you’ve really lost the foundation of this heartland which reaches all the way from the Great Lakes down to the Gulf [of Mexico],” he said.

  For Los Angeles, California, the effects of the U.S. trade war are causing “considerable pain” at the local level, since trade with China accounts for 60 percent of the port city’s total trade volume, said Nina Hachigian, Deputy Mayor of International Affairs, noting that exports to China are down 25 percent, with fruit, nuts and wine from the West Coast state hit hard.

  Nevertheless, the temporary setback in bilateral relations does not seem to have dampened subnational offi cials’ willingness to promote bilateral cooperation with a long-term view.

  “China will always represent a major market and I think it would be a mistake to overlook the potential that is there,” Don Pierson, Secretary of Louisiana Economic Development, told Xinhua News Agency on the sidelines of the 2019 SelectUSA Investment Summit held in Washington, D.C. in June.

  In response to Chinese companies’ concerns about the trade tension, Pierson said the southeast state has always been very international and that “we want to send the message that we remain open for business,” eyeing a strong economic and cultural partnership between China and Louisiana going forward.

  Such remarks were echoed by many at the Fifth China-U.S. Governors Forum held in late May. Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin, host of the event, told Xinhua that he doesn’t think the rhetoric at the national level has undermined the enthusiasm of governors and investors, noting that the presence of nearly 400 people indicated unceasing interest in subnational dialogue.“Our relationship with China is absolutely key and central to the success that we have had,” said Cyrus Habib, Lieutenant Governor of Washington, noting that the northwest state exports more to China than any other state, and that China is also its number one export destination.

  In addition to economic cooperation, subnational leaders have placed great importance on cultural exchanges. “From my perspective as a governor, it’s all about the jobs and the economy, but if I can’t impact that, I’m going to focus on the relationship piece, the cultural piece, because that’s a long-term investment,” Brown said, adding that it will pay off for Oregonians in the decades to come.

  Holden, who helped bring the first Confucius Institute to Missouri, told Xinhua, “It’s my contention that how well you put together the cultural relationships and build the educational partnerships, will determine how successful you’re going to be in the business department.”

  In addition, Chinese-owned manufacturer Phoenix Paper Wickliffe recently announced its plans to invest $200 million in west Kentucky’s Ballard County to construct a new, 100,000-square-feet paper and pulp recycling facility. The new investment, on top of its original $150 million investment, is on its way to creating 500 jobs in the rural community.

  Bevin said that a lot has happened since the establishment of U.S.-China diplomatic relations 40 years ago, and he sees great opportunities for both sides ahead. “We are only at the beginning. I think we will have a long journey together.”

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