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Gas line accord signals closer ties between China and Alaska

  • Author: Luo Linquan
  • Updated: November 12
  • Published November 12

President Donald Trump's recent state visit to China, with Gov. Bill Walker among the entourage, reminds me of Chinese President Xi Jinping's stopover in Anchorage in April.

It was a beautiful spring evening. Gov. Walker and I welcomed President Xi Jinping when his plane landed at Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport. President Xi had just concluded his first summit with President Trump at Mar-a-Lago, Florida, where they agreed to establish four high-level strategic dialogues aiming to enhance cooperation on diplomatic and security issues, trade and economy, social and people-to-people exchanges, as well as law enforcement and cybersecurity between our two countries.

Consul General Luo Linquan of the People’s Republic of China.

I had the honor to witness the friendly meeting between President Xi and Gov. Walker that evening, during which the governor told the president about the abundance of Alaska's resource development opportunities and tremendous potential of cooperation in other fields. Alaska's beautiful scenery and Alaskan hospitality left a very good impression to President Xi and his delegation.

Seven months later, Gov. Walker flew to China, the second time in this half of 2017, to renew friendship and consolidate cooperation. During President Trump's visit, Chinese and the U.S. companies signed business deals worth more than $250 billion, including a $43 billion agreement with Alaska to advance Alaska's liquified natural gas export project. Although there is still a lot of work to be done for this ambitious project, the agreement is a good start to export Alaska's natural gas to China's mass market and attract Chinese investment. If constructed, it would create up to 12,000 jobs to the U.S. and reduce the trade deficit between the two countries.

Being the world's biggest developing economy and the biggest developed economy, respectively, China and the United States are highly complementary rather than competitive. Given the rapid growth of bilateral trade, it's unavoidable to have frictions. The recent frequent high-level exchanges between China and the U.S. showcase that effective communication is not only an important step to avoid conflicts but also a way to tangible outcomes.

As the state that is closest to China among all U.S. states, Alaska is no doubt an important gateway of the U.S. to China in terms of both merchandise trade and people-to-people exchanges. China is Alaska's largest trading partner and export market. In 2016, Alaska exported nearly $1 billion in seafood products to China. Anchorage is one of the most important air-links between China and the U.S., making it a major cargo hub between the world's two largest economies. Alaska's beautiful scenery and unique landscape attracts more Chinese tourists year by year. All these businesses are supporting around 10,000 jobs in Alaska.

What's more, China pledged at the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China, which concluded last month in Beijing, to be more open to the outside world through more liberalization and facilitation of trade and investment, and significantly easing market access for foreign investors. These measures will strengthen economic and trade cooperation between China and the rest of the world, especially the U.S.

As the way leading to mutual trust and win-win relations has been paved, it is time for China and Alaska to seize the window of precious opportunities and work together to deliver more fruits for the good of our two countries and beyond. In the near future, Alaska will be no strangers to the Chinese public, not only for its spectacular aurora and delicious seafood, but also the pragmatic cooperation in projects beneficial to the two peoples.

Luo Linquan is consul general of the People's Republic of China in San Francisco.

The views expressed here are the writer's and are not necessarily endorsed by Alaska Dispatch News, which welcomes a broad range of viewpoints. To submit a piece for consideration, email commentary@alaskadispatch.com. Send submissions shorter than 200 words to letters@alaskadispatch.com.

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