Advocates in Washington for greater U.S.-China trade and cooperation are closely watching the results of the Republican presidential primaries, concerned that anti-Beijing rhetoric could steer the country into a trade war.
"While U.S.-China commercial relations have been a frequent topic on the campaign trail, it is important to note that exports to China are a vital part of the U.S. economy," said the U.S.-China Business Council today. "China is our third-largest export market and is growing faster than many of our other major destinations for American manufactured goods and agriculture products."
The group has gone so far as to produce fact sheets detailing the impact of trade with China on key primary and caucus states to help influence the debate and cool some of the most heated anti-China statements, notably from candidates like Rick Perry. For example, New Hampshire exports $412 million in goods to China yearly, making it the states third-largest export market. South Carolina exports $2.2 billion to China.
China advocates generally support Mitt Romney's campaign because of his business focus, though they are also warm to former Obama ambassador to China Jon Huntsman.
Said one China trade proponent, "The conventional wisdom is that we only buy from China, but we are clearly selling goods from many states. For some states trade with China is 1% of a state's total GDP. For example, what N.H. exports to China is .67% of the state's GDP – but for S.C. it is 1.31%."