New Jersey to ink Chinese deal

April 1, 2008 7:03:26 AM PDT
New Jersey Gov. Jon S. Corzine on Tuesday is expected to sign a cultural and trade agreement with a Chinese province, a move that comes amid international scrutiny of China's human rights policies.

Corzine is scheduled to sign the agreement with Vice Governor Cai Limin of Shandong Province during a morning Statehouse ceremony.

Shandong Province, on China's eastern coast, has several major seaports and is a key production area for grain, cotton and oil.

Corzine spokesman Jim Gardner said the deal will call for trade and cultural exchanges between the states.

Corzine signed a similar agreement with China's Zhejiang Province in 2006. He also toured East Asia that year to promote New Jersey as attractive to biomedical and pharmaceutical companies.

New Jersey companies export about $600 million in goods annually to China.

Corzine, while a U.S. senator, co-sponsored a resolution calling on the United Nations to take action against human rights violations in China. But as governor in 2006 he said expanded trade with China can improve human rights.

"We have a place to resolve those kinds of concerns with the Chinese government and that's through our diplomatic affairs," Corzine said then.

China is preparing to host the Olympics later this year, which along with recent unrest in Tibet has focused renewed attention on its human rights record.

The Tibet unrest is considered the worst in the Chinese-controlled region since 1989. China has blamed the Dalai Lama, Tibet's exiled spiritual leader, and his supporters for inciting peaceful protests that began March 10. The marches erupted into violence four days later.