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Former US Ambassador Gary Locke: China and Washington State Work Together

When President Nixon first went to China, our yearly bilateral trade was less than $100 million and two-way investment in each other's markets was close to zero.  Only a handful of American jobs relied on trade with China. 

Today, roughly $1.5 billion of goods and services flow between our two countries every single day.  China is America's largest export market outside of North America with exports to China growing almost two times the rate to the rest of the world.  And America is China's largest export market exceeding Chinese exports to all the EU nations combined.  Chinese firms in the U.S. employ some 140,000 Americans.

Washington state and China have a 35-year history of mutually beneficial partnerships, including robust trade, scientific research, international education and cultural exchange. Today, China is Washington state's top export destination, receiving more than $15 billion in Made-in-Washington goods last year alone – from Boeing jets to apples, cherries, software and machinery – and supporting close to 90,000 jobs in our state.

A few weeks ago, the University of Washington and Beijing's prestigious Tsinghua University partnered together to open a new technology graduate school in Bellevue, Washington, called The Global Innovation Exchange (GIX).  Tsinghua University is the first Chinese research institution to establish a U.S. location; and it is here in our state at the GIX.  Students and faculty from both universities and both countries will be creating cutting edge solutions to complex global problems.

A prosperous China is good for the United States.  A prosperous China with a growing middle class means greater demand for American-made goods and services.  That means more jobs for Americans.  Conversely, a strong U.S. economy is good for China.

And a strong U.S.-China relationship is good for the entire world.

So many of the problems facing the world cannot be solved by the United States alone or China alone.  From climate change to halting the spread of nuclear weapons to finding cures to some of the most dreaded diseases, the world is looking for leadership from both the United States and China working together.

To be sure, there are major areas of disagreement between the United States and China.  But there are many more areas of common interests and collaboration.  The success and growth of the Washington State-China relationship serve as examples of the possibilities between our two great nations. We are making headway, but there is much more work to be done. 

Author: Gary Locke, U.S. Ambassador to China (2011-2014),Governor, State of Washington (1997-2005)

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