California writes bill touting benefits of its relationship with China

World Today

As the trade tensions between China and the U.S. ratchet up, there’s at least one U.S. state that doesn’t necessarily see eye-to-eye with Washington. The Democratic stronghold of California has written legislation to emphasize the positive benefits from its relationship with China.

CGTN’s Mark Niu filed this report from Silicon Valley.

China is the 2nd largest economy in the world, and California, even though it’s just a U.S. state, is the world’s fifth largest.

The massive volume of trade between the two is partly why so many ‘Golden State’ businesses want trade to continue uninterrupted, and to have Chinese tourists to keep visiting.

“Since 2015 we’ve seen a 20 percent increase and we’re projecting continual increase through 2019,” Cassandra Costello, vice president of Public Policy at San Francisco Travel said. “So I want to continue to welcome our Chinese visitors.”

The California State Assembly has taken the unusual step of passing resolution AJR 44, which declares that the state legislature actively support continued collaboration between California and China. It includes the areas of trade, tourism, technology and innovation.

The resolution also highlights a number of facts:

  • California does more business with China than any other U.S. state
  • There are 20 daily flights between California and Chinese major cities
  • There are 20 pairs of sisters cities between the two regions

The resolution was introduced by California Assemblymember Evan Low, who in 2009, became the youngest Asian American elected mayor in the United States.

“Should there be tax benefits and credits? Should there be formalized relationships with the state of California in response to the tariffs that exist and may offset some of the challenges that we see at the federal level?” asks Low. “We want to provide greater certainty to those in China to demonstrate that we are open for business.”

Making sure China knows the city of San Francisco is still open for business with China has been the job of ChinaSF, which gets a grant from the city.

“I would call it business as usual. Business is an activity where you are flexible, you are fluid,” said Darlene Chiu Bryant, Executive Director of ChinaSF.

Even so, Chiu-Bryant admits that amid the current trade tensions, the U.S. State Department has rejected a greater number of visa applications from potential Chinese investors.

In fact, Low said one of the reasons he introduced AJR-44 is to prevent a potential backlash.

“I have significant concern with respect to the trade wars,” said Low. “Will we see discrimination in the United States toward individuals of Chinese descent because of the increased rhetoric of the division that occurs? So again, what is our obligation? What is our role to ensure that we can be active and we can be present in helping to build a bridge between various entities of natural conflict?”

The resolution also urges both the U.S. Congress and U.S. President Donald Trump to support actions that further strengthen economic links between the U.S., California and China.