China’s corn imports from the U.S. soared in 2020. Credit: TumblingRuns, Creative Commons In the treacherous trade relationship between the United States and China, there has been one kernel of hope: corn. During the past year, corn exports to China have reached record levels. In the last four months of 2020 alone, the U.S. shipped 124 million bushels of corn to China, up from less than one million in the same period in 2019. And reports from the U.S. Department of Agriculture project that from last October to September 2021, American farmers could export as much as $31.5 billion worth of agricultural products to China — the highest number ever — driven partially by surging demand for corn. “The corn exports to China have been crazy,” says Jim Putnam, a corn farmer in Worthington, Minnesota. “It is something I never saw coming. We went from zero to incredible demand.” But what appears to be a bright spot in U.S. trade with China is not necessarily a sign that the U.S. will close its massive deficit, which totalled $310.8 billion last year.Experts Subscribe or login to read the rest. Subscribers get full access to: Exclusive longform investigative journalism, Q&As, news and analysis, and data on Chinese business elites and corporations. We publish China scoops you won't find anywhere else. A weekly curated reading list on China from David Barboza, Pulitzer Prize-winning former Shanghai correspondent for The New York Times. A daily roundup of China finance, business and economics headlines. We offer discounts for groups, institutions and students. Go to our Subscriptions page for details.