Bevin, Chinese ambassador discuss partnerships, not tariffs

Chinese ambassador visits Kentucky; Bevin announces large investment

FRANKFORT, KY (WAVE) - On his first visit ever to Kentucky, China's U.S. ambassador said the state has much more to offer China than just Kentucky Fried Chicken.

Monday, Ambassador Cui Tiankai met with Gov. Matt Bevin, business owners and state economic development officials to discuss potential partnerships and Chinese investment in the Commonwealth.

"All of these exchanges are helping us develop very strong people-to-people and sub-national relations between our two peoples," Ambassador Cui said.

Cui and Bevin emerged from private discussions to say they were not focused on trade tariffs and their potential impact to Kentucky industries, including bourbon.

"The focus of our conversation has been very different that what I think you would imagine it to be based on your questions," Bevin told reporters from Kentucky and Chinese news agencies.

According to information provided by the Governor's Office, China is Kentucky's fourth largest trading partner.

The country is a big importer of Kentucky-made Lincoln navigators and home to 7,300 restaurants like KFC, owned by Yum China.

Bevin said there are seven Chinese-owned companies in Kentucky, employing 8,200 people, including those at GE Appliance Park in Louisville.

The governor downplayed the immediate impact of tariffs and called for more Chinese investment in the Commonwealth.

"This is not a bad time for business between China and the United States," Bevin said. "This is a great time."

Bevin said an announcement will be made soon about a $100 million Chinese investment in Kentucky, but he declined to give any details.

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