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Xi's Alaska stopover sets positive China-US trade tone

Editor: Qian Ding 丨CCTV.com

04-12-2017 09:09 BJT

By Tom McGregor, CCTV.com Panview Opinion page commentator and editor

Alaska has struggled under recessionary times in recent years, despite holding an abundant wealth of natural resources, forestry & fisheries, gold & silver mines, along with huge reserves of oil & gas - underground and offshore.

As the global economy had slowed down, conditions lowered worldwide demand for commodities and energy.

Alaska Governor Bill Walker, a Republican, is looking for a turnaround and believes pushing for more exports to Asian markets can be the right solution. China has become Alaska’s largest trading partner.

Gov. Walker was pleased to greet Chinese President Xi Jinping in Anchorage last Friday during a stopover after Xi visited US President Donald Trump at the Mar-A-Lago resort in Florida.

Xi and Walker discussed the potential for greater economic cooperation as they took a tour of scenic sites.

Shipping LNG across the Pacific

Trump has signed Executive Orders to permit more oil & gas companies to conduct exploration and drilling in Alaska.

He also reversed a ban on oil and gas exports, as well as granting permits for building pipelines to transport fossil fuels to refinery ports for shipping abroad.

Walker endorsed a deal to start construction on a multi-billion US dollar AKLNG (Alaska Liquefied Natural Gas) pipeline that would deliver natural gas from the state’s North Slope to a refinery on the southern coast and made ready for shipment to Asian energy consumers.

China has risen as the world’s largest energy consumer and in the past month, US Chamber of Commerce has disclosed the world's second largest economy is the biggest buyer of US oil & gas exports.

Consequently, the China-US trade deficit has already begun to narrow, starting in February.

Bigger craving for seafood

Alaska is more than a land of commodities and fossil fuels just waiting to get extracted. The state has a lengthy coastline where the waters offer huge schools of fish.

Last year, Alaska's top exports was seafood, selling over $US1.2bn. to China; $820 million to Japan and $730 million to South Korea. Alaskan fisheries shipped off frozen cod, flat fish, halibut, salmon and pollack along with crab.

Hence, Xi's visit to Alaska harbored hope for local officials.

"I think this is an extremely valuable opportunity to meet with our largest trade partner face to face," said Chris Hladick, commissioner of Alaska's Commerce Department.

He called the Xi-Walker meeting a "once-in-a-lifetime opportunity" for his state’s economic prospects.

Jerry McCune, President of United Fishermen of Alaska, also praised Xi's stopover to Alaska and believes future seafood exports to Chinese consumers "would be huge."

Eyeing tourism and winter sports

Nevertheless, the highlight of Xi's Alaska stopover was a motorcade tour of its natural scenery. The Chinese president was joined by Gov. Walker on a driving trip to Beluga Point.

One could overlook a stunning vista of the snow-capped Chugach mountains and glaciers and stood on the shore of Alaska's Cook Inlet to observe endangered Beluga whales in nearby waters.

And, the Chinese have earned a reputation for seeking out vacations in far away and isolated lands with adventure playing a central theme.

During the tour, Xi informed Walker that China will host the Winter Olympics in 2022 and the country’s athletes would like to train in colder climates.

So one could anticipate that Chinese winter sports training grounds for skiers and skaters might open up in Alaska next winter.

'Off the map' no more

Many Americans like to say Alaska is "off the map," since it does not share a land border with the Continental 48 states and is located west of Canada.

It's a bitter cold tundra in the winter, but Xi has recognized Alaska should not be ignored as China and the US look to boost bilateral trade & investment ties.

Chinese tourists can find real rugged outdoor adventures in Alaska and find proven training grounds for Chinese winter sports athletes.

Accordingly, Alaska can play a crucial role to bring the US and China closer together.

 Tom McGregor, CCTV.com Panview Opinion page commentator and editor

(The opinions expressed here do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Panview or CCTV.com)


Panview offers a new window of understanding the world as well as China through the views, opinions, and analysis of experts. We also welcome outside submissions, so feel free to send in your own editorials to "globalopinion@vip.cntv.cn" for consideration.

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