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Posts tagged: china

Otter at Women’s Day on selling Idaho to China: ‘We have not, we will not’

An array of female state government officials, including state Controller Donna Jones, state Department of Agriculture Director Celia Gould, state Appellate Public Defender Molly Huskey, state Historical Society Director Janet Gallimore, and many more, are gathered in the Capitol Auditorium for today's second annual “Women's Day at the Capitol.” Gov. Butch Otter told the group, “Women have been intricately involved in the history of Idaho.”

The governor, First Lady Lori Otter and the officials are taking questions from the roughly 70 attendees; the first was from the owner of a very small business, inquiring what the state is doing to help the state's smallest businesses, like hers with just herself and one part-time employee. Otter said, “I would tell you in Idaho, small business is our economy.” Bibiana Nertney from the Idaho Department of Commerce discussed loans and other programs her department offers. The next question, submitted in writing and read by moderator Natalie Hurst, was, “Can you explain the Chinese situation - are you really selling part of the state?”

Otter said, “No - that's the answer. I don't know how that got so convoluted, but I guess it had to do with poor timing on our part. The first lady and I led a trade delegation to China.” He noted that Idaho's international sales have risen dramatically since 1987, when he first became lieutenant governor, and touted that growth. “Somehow the connection was made between a visit that was made to the state of Idaho by a Chinese group and my trip to China,” Otter said. “I have never ever talked to anyone or got into a discussion with anyone that wanted to buy 50,000 acres right next to Gowen Field, which we don't have, by the way, and open up a free trade zone, which we only have one in Idaho, and it's actually up on the Canadian border with Canada. … We have not, we will not.”

The China thing…

It turns out that the John Birch Society, through its magazine, “The New American,” has been whipping up the swirl of online outrage over Idaho being sold off to the Chinese, Idaho Statesman reporter Rocky Barker reported on Sunday; you can read his full article here, which included this tidbit: Last week, the online frenzy bumped a six-month-old Statesman story about about an effort to court Chinese investment in Idaho to the most-viewed article on the Statesman's website, drawing tens of thousands of viewers. Barker's article includes a Q-and-A “fact check” on the claims, noting that the Chinese have not bought 50 square miles of Idaho, nor would a possible free-trade zone exempt the Chinese from American laws; Idaho has a free trade zone for Canada now in Boundary County.

In the latest “New American” article on June 9, writer Joe Wolverton blasted Idaho Gov. Butch Otter's “Project 60,” a plan to increase the state's gross domestic product while Otter is governor, as “an extraordinary display of misdirection all designed to lull the citizens of the sovereign state of Idaho into a stupor while their state is sold to the Chinese.” Barker reports that Otter fielded questions from concerned Idahoans about the reports at his recent Capital for a Day event at Castleford.

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Betsy Z. Russell covers Idaho news from The Spokesman-Review's bureau in Boise.

Named best state-based political blog in Idaho for 2013 by The Fix

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