BOISE, Idaho (AP) -- Idaho Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter for the second time in a little over two years plans to lead a trade delegation to China, a top importer of the state's products.
"The governor is a staunch advocate of growing our business relationships with all of our current international trading partners and in cultivating relationships with new ones," Otter spokesman Jon Hanian told the Idaho Statesman (http://bit.ly/HyvYv3 ). "That is one of the ways we create more jobs in Idaho."
During the weeklong trip starting Saturday, Otter and a contingent of business representatives will visit Shanghai, Beijing and Chengdu. In 2011, China ranked fifth among the state's importers by buying $398 million in goods.
But some of Otter's fellow state Republicans are suspicious of China. Last July, the party's central committee passed a resolution stating "the stability of our form of government is being undermined by strategies used by the Chinese state-government-controlled entities through investments, corporate takeovers, intelligence operations and rare-Earth monopolization."
Jeff Sayer, director of the Idaho Department of Commerce, said attracting investment isn't the focus of Otter's trip this time, but noted that the governor won't turn down investments based solely on where they come from.
"Increasing international exports and attracting investment capital remain top priorities for the Department of Commerce," he said. "Each of these steps are critical strategies to advance Idaho's economy to $60 billion."
The $60 billion represents Otter's Project 60, a plan to increase Idaho's gross state product to $60 billion while creating job opportunities in the state.
After Otter's previous trip to China, 120 Chinese millionaires invested $60 million in gold mines and a McCall resort that was part of a plan for them to get green cards for themselves and family members, but that money remains in escrow.
"People are still concerned about the China issue," said Sen. Sheryl Nuxoll, R-Cottonwood, who doesn't want Chinese companies investing in Idaho. "They do not share the same principles and values we do."
Others don't want Otter going to China at all.
"The role of government is to facilitate commerce, not generate it," said Lori Shewmaker, a Meridian member of the Ada County Republican Central Committee.
But Rep. Pete Nielsen, R-Mountain Home, said selling more Idaho goods to China would be good as it would reduce the U.S. trade deficit.
And others are fine with Chinese investment in the state.
"If there is a way we can retrieve some of the jobs we have lost, we've got to look at it," said Republican Senate Caucus Chairman Russ Fulcher of Kuna.
Still, Otter's webpage devotes a fair amount of space swatting aside what he has called nonsense concerning Chinese investment. One of those topics the governor addresses is about a supposed 50-square-mile, self-sustaining city China would build south of Boise.
Otter notes that federal, state and local laws don't allow a foreign government to acquire a section of American soil to build an autonomous city.
"Nobody is a stronger, more consistent defender of our Idaho sovereignty than me, from all threats, whether it's a foreign influence or a federal agency here at home," Otter has previously pointed out in attempting to quash the rumor.
Information from: Idaho Statesman, http://www.idahostatesman.com
Copyright 2012 The AP.