Reuters has a story looking at the upcoming U.S. presidential elections and the extent to which fears about China may play a part in the campaign:
"Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney's threat to get tough with China about its trade practices increases the odds that China-bashing will permeate a presidential contest to woo U.S. voters seeking a culprit for the nation's economic malaise."
All of which reminds me of Idaho.
My McClatchy colleague Rocky Barker, a reporter at the Idaho Statesman, visited China last June to follow Idaho Gov. Butch Otter on a trade mission. In a preview of the trip, Barker wrote the following:
" 'The Chinese are looking for a beachhead in the United States,' said Idaho Commerce Secretary Don Dietrich. Idaho is ready to give them one."
The delegation from Idaho came and went, and all seemed well. That December, Barker wrote, "A Chinese national company is interested in developing a 10,000- to 30,000-acre technology zone for industry, retail centers and homes south of the Boise Airport."
Gov. Otter had gone to China looking for investment, and it seemed that investment was coming. Again, all seemed well.
Enter: The John Birch Society. A magazine published by the group ran a column this May that defined the company involved in the development proposal thusly: "a commercial-political-military-intelligence instrument of the communist regime in Beijing."
Referring to the quote by Dietrich, the columnist wrote that, "As Idaho’s chief promoter of commerce, Dietrich surely could not have intended to convey a willingness to provide a hostile foreign power with an invitation for a military invasion."
The issue gained momentum on the conservative blogosphere. The headline that followed in the Idaho Statesman said it all: "Bloggers fear a Chinese takeover of Idaho. State officials say the investments will be a boon and pose no danger."
Again, from Barker: "Don Dietrich doesn’t overreact when he gets emails calling him a traitor or a dupe opening the way for an invasion of Idaho by Chinese Communists. 'Given what they’re reading, they are rightfully concerned,'said Dietrich, director of the Idaho Department of Commerce. 'But what they are reading is in some cases nonsense.' "
I think it's a good guess that we'll see more of this as the election season draws closer in the States.