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China hub scuttled governor's Taiwan trip

It appears diplomatic concerns, not travel issues, are what's keeping Gov. Jay Nixon in the United States next week.

The governor, his wife Georganne, the directors of the state departments of agricultureand economic development, business leaders and several trade and agriculture commodity groups were scheduled to go head to Taiwan December 10-16. On the trade mission, Nixon was supposed to sign a letter of intent that had Taiwanese businesses buying $120 million of Missouri products over the nexy five years.

A week before the scheduled departure, Nixon's office released a short statement saying the trip was cancelled. It came shortly after North Korea shelleda South Korean island.

But the Post-Dispatch reported Tuesday that officials with the Midwest-China Hub Commissionurged the governor not to travel to Taiwan because of the sensitive nature of Taiwan in the U.S.-China relationship.

According to the Post-Dispatch, on Dec. 2, the day after Nixon announced the trip, hub commission chairman Mike Jones sent the governor a letter.

The letter said that a representative of the Chinese government was afraid the trip would be received negatively in Beijing. "Jeffery Yang, the Chinese Consul General for the Midwest … officially contacted the MCHC to express his strong concern that your proposed visit to Taiwan would be misunderstood in Beijing and would probably affect our chances of success," Jones wrote. "(T)he Board of Commissioners of the MCHC respectfully requests that you find a diplomatic way of avoiding your trip to Taiwan." By late Friday afternoon, the governor's office issued a one-sentence news release: "Because of travel challenges, Gov. Nixon's upcoming trade mission has been postponed."

At an appearance in Jefferson City Tuesday morning, Nixon took no questions from reporters. A spokesman later told St. Louis Public Radio's Marshall Griffin the governor's office would not comment on the Post-Dispatch story and had no further comment on the trade trip itself.

Rachel is the justice correspondent at St. Louis Public Radio.