It’s excellent diplomacy for the U.S. to help China better protect nuclear materials, using expertise from Washington state.

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An important addition was made Friday to the list of things Washington state exports to China.

Along with software, airplanes and all sorts of foodstuffs, Washington is now providing the Asian nation with expertise in protecting nuclear material.

Experts from the Richland-based Pacific Northwest National Laboratory helped establish the Nuclear Security Center of Excellence, which opened near Beijing on Friday. The national lab’s experience handling nuclear materials extends back to its support of the Manhattan Project, which developed the atomic bomb in the 1940s. The nearby Hanford nuclear site played a role.

“The world needs more capacity in this kind of training,” PNNL Director Steven Ashby said before flying to Beijing for the opening ceremony.

President Obama and former China President Hu Jintao agreed to establish the center in 2010 as part of an international, Obama-led effort to protect the world from nuclear terrorism. The center is opening just before the fourth and final Nuclear Security Summit, starting March 31 in Washington, D.C.

Occupying roughly four blocks, the Beijing center will train students from China and other Asian nations in best practices for monitoring, analyzing, transporting and protecting nuclear materials.

This is vitally important as nuclear facilities proliferate in Asia. China is now operating 31 nuclear power plants and building 24 more to supply energy to its vast population.

Sharing America’s expertise and helping other nations protect nuclear material is excellent diplomacy and increases security for everyone.

If Washington is going to help China and other Asian countries with their growing demand for energy, it’s far preferable for the state to export knowledge rather than coal or oil.