A $30 million investment in Barnesville by China-based General Protecht Group will help bring additional Chinese investment to Georgia, Ma Xiuhong, China’s vice minister of commerce, said in Atlanta on May 11.

Together, with Gov. Sonny Perdue and state economic development officials, Ms. Ma officially announced General Protecht’s purchase of more than 200 acres in Barnesville.

The land will initially be used to build an electronics component manufacturing facility that will employ about 240 people. The site is also being considered for the development of an industrial park, Ms. Ma said in a speech at the Embassy Suites Hotel downtown.

Leading a group of about 110 Chinese businesspeople here, Ms. Ma suggested that members of her delegation would be well poised to invest in the industrial park if it were built. She also said that their visit represented a larger effort by China to position its businesspeople as foreign direct investors.

“This is a very important part of investment promotion activities China will carryout throughout the United States,” Ms. Ma said of her group’s visit to Atlanta.

More than 350 Chinese businesspeople will be visiting 23 states over the next few weeks to promote the country as a source of investment and as an importer of U.S. goods.

Before arriving in Atlanta Thursday, Ms. Ma announced China’s commitment to buy $4.3 billion in U.S. technologies during contract-signing ceremonies held May 9 in San Francisco.

The promotion campaign precedes federal-level discussions between China and the U.S. that are to take place in Washington at the end of the month and are expected to address the U.S.’s $232 billion trade deficit with China.

While Ms. Ma said that she had not encountered any negative sentiments from city and state officials regarding the U.S. trade deficit during her travels, she did say that it was important to promote China’s ability to buy from and invest in the U.S.

“We would like to show the real situation and real efforts of Chinese businesses to work with the U.S.,” she told GlobalAtlanta. “We would like to show the people of the U.S. and the business world that we really have a bright future.”

The business delegation accompanying Ms. Ma represented China’s soybean, cotton, household products and investment sectors, she said.

They participated in a business seminar organized by the Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce after the announcement of General Protecht’s investment.

In addition to General Protecht, China-based Lehui Enterprises, a manufacturer of food and beverage processing equipment, has also invested in Georgia. The company announced last June a $12 million-to-$15 million investment to build a manufacturing facility in Newnan.

China is Georgia’s third largest export destination. The state sent $1.1 billion worth of products to China in 2006, representing an 11 percent increase from 2005, according to state officials.

Trade to and from China flowing to Georgia through Atlanta, Brunswick and Savannah totaled $12.1 billion in 2005, ranking Georgia as the sixth-largest port in the U.S. for imports and exports with China and the second largest port on the East Coast.

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