Tuesday, 10 April 2012

Idaho Governor Goes Back to China: Selling Groceries or Green Cards?

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Disregarding the concerns of many in his party and many of the citizens who elected him, Idaho Governor Butch Otter is headed back to China to continue courting the world’s largest communist regime and second largest economy.

The Republican Governor’s junket scheduled for April 14-21 comes on the heels of a resolution passed by the Idaho Republican Party casting doubt on the true purpose behind Otter’s cozying up to the Chinese government.

Schmoozing with communists is nothing new for Governor Otter. In June 2010, he attended meetings in Beijing and Shanghai, extolling the economic virtues of his state and enticing the wealthy Chinese businessmen (agents of the government that owns the majority of those businesses) to invest in his state. He assured his comrades that Idaho stood ready to give them carte blanche to import men and money to the state.

The Governor made the Chinese government an offer it couldn’t refuse. A coalition of representatives of the Department of Commerce and influential Idaho businessmen allowed the Chinese to invest $500,000 in a gold mine and another $500,000 in a resort. The payoff? Green cards for the Chinese officials and their families.

Flush from the success of this transaction, 120 Chinese millionaires pooled their money and placed $60 million in an escrow account to be used to create jobs for their families (along with the highly valued immigration documents). As soon as the jobs and green cards are ready, the Chinese will release the money and head to Idaho.

Apparently, Governor Otter likes the taste of the water he draws from the Chinese well. So, bucket in hand, he’s heading back. Otter’s April itinerary includes a return visit to his friends in Shanghai and Beijing, as well as a trip to Chengdu, a city of 11 million people situated over 1,000 miles inland.

What can Idahoans expect to gain from this latest trip to China? Let’s review what happened last time, beyond the deals already described.

After the trip to Shanghai last year, Otter initiated a plan to facilitate Chinese investment in the Gem State called Project 60. The details of the scheme reveal that in a very real, though indirect, manner Governor Butch Otter is opening the door to the gradual invasion of his state by undocumented Chinese “workers.”

In very unclear terms, one of the principal planks of the Project 60 platform is known as “Inward Foreign Direct Investment.” As laid out on the Project 60 website, this portion of the plan will increase Idaho’s role “in global business” by providing foreign industry with “a strong impetus to economic development.”

The “impetus” is a two-pronged attack on Idaho’s domestic workforce (read: the middle class). First, through Project 60, foreign business interests are encouraged to take advantage of favorable national immigration laws.

Specifically, “The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service administers an immigrant investor visa program called EB-5. The program grants foreigners permanent U.S. residency in exchange for helping create U.S. jobs.” This prong will facilitate the immigration of Chinese nationals into the United States for the purpose of establishing a Chinese industrial beachhead in Idaho, under the guise of creating U.S. jobs.

The second phase involves the granting of tax breaks to the foreign companies. In exchange for an investment of between $500,000 and $1 million (depending on whether the target zone is rural or urban, respectively), the foreign investor receives tax incentives.

All of this, when read in the context of Chinese divestment of 97 percent of its U.S. Treasury bills over the past two years, paints a very vulgar picture of a Governor of one of the sovereign states sacrificing the freedom of his citizens on the altar of “foreign investment.” Whether he understands the full implications of his pecuniary policies is immaterial. The irrefutable fact is that the Chinese understand them perfectly well and are all too pleased to take advantage of the Governor’s greed.

As for the full effect of these relations, only time will tell. Consider though, that the oppressive Chinese regime, by wisely divesting itself of American Treasury securities, can take advantage of our federal system (the co-existence of two equal sovereignties) and keep its fingers in American pies by establishing powerful outposts in the 50 states, thus bypassing the chokehold held over the national economy by the bust/boom cycle perpetuated by the Federal Reserve.

Put simply, Idaho (and reportedly other states, as well) are offering the Chinese a way to dump their useless Treasury bonds without sacrificing the strength of their clamp on the economic pipeline of American industry.

The specifics of the wheeling and dealing between Idaho’s state government and their Chinese counterparts are unclear with a few exceptions. What is known is that “top Idaho officials have been traveling to China and entertaining the Chinese here, in order to help facilitate this.”

The result of these junkets? American Falls, Idaho, may soon be home to a Chinese-owned fertilizer plant. A significant swathe of land south of Boise (about 30,000 acres) was bought by China, a purchase Idaho’s Governor promises will “reinvigorate our American industrial base.”

Regarding the purpose of his upcoming Chinese mission, the Governor did not return the call made to his office by The New American, but his Press Secretary, Jon Hanian, has made his boss’s intentions very clear. “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,” Hanian said. “That is one of the ways we create more jobs in Idaho.”

The Director of the Idaho Department of Commerce, Jeff Sayer, echoes Hanian’s sentiments. “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.”

As reported above, the Governor is so committed to courting communists that he is ignoring the express wishes of his own party that he “cease further foreign-based corporate development of a ‘Free Trade Zone’ and approximately 60,000 acres in Idaho.”

In response to the resolution, Otter chided his constituency for their naiveté, observing, "Given what they’re reading, they are rightfully concerned. But what they are reading is in some cases nonsense.”

Some of that “nonsense” was an article written last year by this reporter exposing Otter’s questionable dealings with China.

“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 continued.

Despite the Governor’s reassurances of his patriotism, some state Republican lawmakers are not persuaded. “People are still concerned about the China issue,” said State Senator Sheryl Nuxoll (R- Cottonwood). Senator Nuxoll prefers that Idaho accept no investment by Chinese companies in her state. “They do not share the same principles and values we do,” she explained.

According to those supporting Otter’s latest mission to China, on this latest mission to China the Governor is “selling groceries,” something that comes easily to the former international executive for J.R. Simplot Company, a frozen food processing firm based in Boise.

Critics of the plan hope that this time, for the sake of the citizens of Idaho, Governor Otter really is selling the Chinese groceries rather than green cards.

Photo of Butch Otter: AP Images

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