Illinois Governor Pat Quinn will be traveling to China today for an eight day trade mission, focused on agricultural exports and foreign direct investments and tourism.
"Trade and investment in China are essential to growing our economy and during this trip, we will promote Illinois' exports and encourage Chinese companies to invest in Illinois," said Quinn.
Illinois leads the Midwest in exports and foreign direct investment. In recent years, Illinois has seen a 35 percent increase in exports to China and the relationship needs stoking.
But questions about cost have dogged the governor's jaunt to go meet with Chinese officials.
In total, the trip -- which includes a contingent of about 30 Illinois business leaders and politicians -- will cost the state $133,000.
That figure has led to questions about whether its a good idea to spend funds during a state fiscal crisis.
But according to the Associate Press, the trip to Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong will be paid for from a fund dedicated to promoting Illinoin.
Quinn's office says the delegation were paying their own travel costs, and other expenditures would be taken from a a tax on hotels and motels.Quinn said the benefits outweighed the costs.
"It's important that we invest in robust export initiatives and also robust efforts to get investment in Illinois in job creation," he said.
During his trip, Quinn will sign a memorandum of understanding to promote future business exchanges in biotechnology, clean energy and education. He will sign a sister river agreement to promote pollution control and clean water technology, and further economic development and tourism.
In Shanghai, Quinn will be a keynote speaker at a meeting of the American Chamber of Commerce in the People's Republic of China, where nearly 30 companies have already invested in Illinois.
Quinn is not the only Illinois official who has worked toward strengthening relationships and trade with China. Earlier this year, former mayor Richard Daley made a trip to China to make China, "the most China-friendly city in the United States of America."