U.S. exports to China have jumped over 500 percent in 10 years, notably from the districts of some of Beijing's harshest critics in Congress, a sharp contrast that some China watchers hope will cool Capitol Hill's mounting anti-China rhetoric.
The U.S.-China Business Council on Tuesday is releasing a tally of exports from all 435 congressional districts that finds exports from 420 of them had higher growth in exports to China in 2011 than they did to other markets around the globe.
Much of the growth came in districts represented by Beijing's loudest critics like Rep. Tim Ryan, a Democrat who represents Akron, Ohio and who's pushed to levy duties on China for refusing to reform its currency and slapped the U.S. Olympic Committee for making Team USA's uniforms in China. According to excerpts of the report provided to Secrets, Ryan's district exported $131 million to China in 2011, a 494 percent jump since 2002.
The northern Virginia district of Republican Rep. Frank Wolf, a critic of a Chinese telecom firm, shipped goods worth $136 million to China last year, a 536 percent jump since 2002.
And the Toledo, Ohio district of Democratic Rep. Marcy Kaptur exported $106 million to China last year, a 379 percent nine-year jump, despite her criticism of China's tax on U.S. auto imports.
The U.S.-China Business Council did not criticize any members in their fact-based report. But other China watchers told Secrets that the boost in exports should be nurtured, not criticized by lawmakers. "When an economy is looking for growth it makes little sense to be so critical of a major trading partner," said one expert on background. "Would Tim Ryan rather not have his district sell over $100 million worth of goods to China? Would he prefer that Germany, South Korea or Australia meet that demand?"
According to the export list, five Washington state districts were among the top 10 exporters to China for a total of $8.6 billion in 2011. Said the U.S.-China Business Council Vice President Erin Ennis: "Exports to China contribute to America's economic recovery and support good jobs for American workers."