Trade ties together China and US state of Kentucky

China 24

Kentucky and China: Two places overcoming their differences to work together. CGTN’s Mike Walter spoke to Kentucky’s Governor to learn more.

They seem worlds apart. Kentucky is known for its pastoral landscapes, with a population of just under 4.5 million. Shanghai is known for its modern skyline, and the population of the city alone dwarfs that of Kentucky, with 24 million residents.

Yet Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin is doing everything he can to strengthen the unlikely marriage between Kentucky and China. I met with him before his trip to the China International Import Expo.

“Last year over $2.8 billion of Kentucky-made goods were consumed by folks in China: automotive, aerospace, petrochemicals things of that sort, a variety of components as well,” Bevin explained. “We’re grateful for the fact that now this has leapfrogged China into our top five, displacing Mexico as number four.”

That’s why, according to the governor, the China International Import Expo is so important.

“I’m looking forward to it. It will be a great opportunity for us to showcase what we do here in Kentucky.”

Showcasing Kentucky also included hosting the Chinese Ambassador Cui Tiankai earlier this year. It was the first ever visit to the state by a Chinese Ambassador, and not long after, a Chinese company purchased an idled paper plant. The company will bring desperately needed jobs to a depressed region of the state.

“Chun Yin has a company called Global Wind. What they’ve done is infuse millions of dollars, creating hundreds of jobs right in the heart of America where there is tremendous supply of pulp and soft wood to make this product,” Bevin said. “It’s a win-win.”

In addition to attending the CIIE, Bevin will travel to three other Chinese cities before returning home. This will not be the governor’s first trip to Asia. Bevin has a degree in East Asian Studies and lived on the continent 30 years ago.

This means he has a unique perspective: an understanding of the Asian mindset, and an understanding of his fellow Republican, U.S. President Donald Trump.

“I would say to the President of the U.S. that negotiations in private are more effective when dealing with people in Asia,” according to the governor. “Doing things below the radar screen is sometimes more powerful and effective. And the sense of face and the loss of face in Asia – in any number of countries – is something to be avoided.”

As for the Chinese President?

“I would say to President Xi, and those on the other side of the equation, that China has emerged. The notion it will be given the favorable status that it has had historically… those days are over.”

But the governor has one piece of advice that applies to both.

“Continue to plow forward, and be respectful of one another.”