Terry Branstad, former Governor of Iowa, was nominated by President Trump to be the U.S. ambassador to China. Branstad took office at the end of May. The most critical part of the selection process for foreign services nominations is a hearing by the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
On May 2, Branstad attended the hearing where he spoke of his intention to positively influence China-U.S. relationships, and to promote U.S. and international interests in China through his long-founded relationship with the Chinese leader, Xi Jinping.
When asked whether the United States and China are enemies or allies, Branstad paused for few seconds before answering. He replied that it was a very difficult question to answer, since Sino-U.S. relationships have been sliding in recent years. He said that Washington should strive to become Beijing’s partner.
At the same time, he stressed that China is obliged to comply with international rules. Branstad’s relationship with Xi Jinping dates back to 1985.
According to National Public Radio (NPR), it was reported that when Branstad served as the governor during his first term, Xi Jinping led the Hebei Province agricultural delegation to Iowa. At the time, both men both got on well with each other and have maintained contact since that initial meeting.
Xi Jinping was gradually promoted to the top ranks of the Chinese Communist Party in 2011, while Branstad was reelected governor of Iowa. During his term as governor, several billions of dollars of pork and soybeans were exported to China.
In 2012, serving as vice chairman, Xi Jinping visited the U.S. and paid a second visit to Iowa, where Branstad personally received him.
On the Iowa State Government website, Branstad said that his new appointment as ambassador to China is an “extraordinary opportunity.”
The Chinese side quickly welcomed the appointment of Branstad, saying that he is “an old friend of the Chinese people.”
Translated by Chua BC.