Iowa governor to host Chinese leader

Updated: 2012-02-14 19:35

By Tan Yingzi (

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DES MOINES, Iowa - When governor Terry Branstad planted the seeds of friendship between the state of Iowa and Hebei province in 1983, he could not have imagined the fruit they would bear.

In 1985, Branstad met with Xi Jinping, then a low-level official in Hebei, at his office at the state capitol. Now, the 65-year-old governor, who is still in charge of the state after he returned to the position in 2001, will host the Chinese leader again.

The close relationship with Hebei in the past three decades has not only accelerated Iowa's export growth to China, but also raised the profile of the American Heartland around the world as its old friend Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping revisits the state Wednesday.

"I think it is the biggest thing that happened in Iowa in a long, long, long time," Branstad told China Daily in his official office.

Xi, who led a delegation to learn Iowa's advanced agricultural technology 27 years ago, was impressed by the hospitality and friendliness of the people he met in the state.

During his official visit to the Unites States on Feb 13-17, he will leave for Iowa to meet his old American friends after he finishes the meetings in Washington DC.

The 17 people he met during the 1985 trip are waiting for him in Muscatine, the small town that left Xi much sweet memories. After the reunion, he will attend the dinner reception at the state capitol in Des Moines, present at the China-US Agriculture Symposium and visit a farm on Thursday morning.

"It is an exciting time for Iowa," the governor said. "We are excited about not only the reunion but also the potential that we will have in the future."

He expects that Xi's visit will bring Iowa more trade opportunities with the world's second largest economy, especially in agriculture and financial services.

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