Relations pay rich dividends

Updated: 2012-10-26 07:43

By Zhang Yuwei (China Daily)

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US officials seek investment from China, reports Zhang Yuwei in New York.

Having engaged in what even some US pundits deemed "China bashing" during the campaign, the US presidential candidates toned down their rhetoric this week. They acknowledged China's economic interdependence with the United States and seemed to accept the global importance of a positive relationship between the two countries.

That message had already been received by local governments in the US. For them, increased investment from China and a steady stream of trade trips by US officials seeking opportunities in the Asian nation prove that bilateral economic ties are stronger than ever.

Nearly a dozen trade missions to China, led by US state governors, have already taken place this year. In September, Nebraska's Dave Heineman hosted officials from Shaanxi province on a reciprocal visit through the sister-state relationship the governor established during his investment-scouting trip to China in July.

Relations pay rich dividends

Nebraska Governor Dave Heineman (center) accepts a gift from his counterpart from Shaanxi province Zhao Zhengyong during his trade mission in Xi'an in July. Provided to China Daily

Recently five Chinese companies announced plans to open offices in Nebraska. One, Shanghai Liuhe Qinqiang Food Co, has set up an operation in Omaha to export meat to China.

Long-term vision

Heineman has a long-term vision for Chinese investment in his state. "This is a partnership we want for a lifetime," he told China Daily at the Republican National Convention Florida in August. "We are not there for a partnership for a day. We want you to come to Nebraska to become part of our community and we want you to be here forever."

Last month, three US governors - Republicans Rick Snyder of Michigan and Brian Sandoval of Nevada, and Democrat Dannel Malloy of Connecticut - led trade delegations from their states to China with the same goal; to expand state-level economic ties with the world's second-biggest economy.

Sandoval's trip produced concrete deals, including a two-year contract worth about $500,000 between Las Vegas' Tate Snyder Kimsey Architects and Shenzhen Investment Holding Co, to design a business park near Hong Kong, and an agreement for Kimmie Candy Co from Reno to enter the Chinese market.

By opening trade offices in Shanghai after their governors' trade trips, Nebraska and Michigan now have a physical presence through which they can promote trade, tourism and cultural exchanges.

In Monday night's debate, just two weeks before Election Day in the US, Obama described China as a "potential partner" but also an "adversary", while Romney softened his previously harsh tone, saying China wants a "free and open" and "stable world" in which the economy works.

Views of Chinese investment where it's actually made are likely to differ from those expressed on a debate stage or at a congressional hearing - such as the one earlier this month that slammed the Chinese telecommunications companies Huawei Technologies Co and ZTE Corp for allegedly unfair and illicit practices.

At least 37 US states are home to some form of investment from China, in industries including auto parts, information technology and services. Meanwhile, Chinese business investment in the US support about 30,000 jobs, according to Rhodium Group, which tracks Chinese investment abroad.

With the US unemployment rate at 7.8 percent and tens of millions of US citizens either without a job or only able to find part-time work, 30,000 jobs may not seem like a lot. But considering the source is inbound investment from just one country, the number could grow as the economy improves.

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