President-elect Donald Trump nominated Gov. Terry Branstad Wednesday to serve as the next U.S. Ambassador to China. In this February 15, 2012 file-pool photo, Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping and Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad raise their glasses at the beginning of a formal dinner in the rotunda at the.
One of Mr Branstad's favourite anecdotes, which he told to your correspondent in an interview a year ago, was how in 1985, when he was first-term governor of Iowa, he met Xi Jinping, China's president, then a mid-level official from the rural Hebei province. Xi was a rising leader seeking ideas in Iowa for crop and livestock techniques to help his own agriculturally rich region.
Branstad, the nation's longest-serving governor in U.S. history, likely will step down after Trump is inaugurated on January 20 and his appointment to the Chinese ambassadorship is confirmed by the U.S. Senate.
"I think she's very well prepared and has great leadership ability", he said. Branstad said "the respect and admiration built over a decades-old friendship between President Xi and I give me an opportunity to help the President-elect and serve Iowa, the United States and the world for the better".
Trump's criticism of China comes a few weeks after he waded into what some believe is risky diplomatic territory by talking to the Taiwanese president.
She issued a statement congratulating Gov. Branstad, but did directly address the fact that she may become Iowa's governor. He became America's longest-serving governor after he was elected for an unprecedented sixth term as governor of Iowa in November 2014. Iowa exports to China hit $1.2 billion past year, up 93% from 2013. "With my wife Chris by my side, I look forward to the work ahead, but we will never have Iowa far from our hearts".
Mr Branstad arrived at Trump Tower in NY on Tuesday afternoon with his wife, Chris, and his chief of staff Michael Bousselot.
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Branstad will join Trump at his Des Moines rally Thursday, one of the stops on Trump's "thank you" tour of rallies in swing states.
It was Trump's latest step to fill out his all-important cabinet in the weeks before the maverick billionaire takes the helm of the planet's largest economy, with observers worldwide on tenterhooks over how he will conduct policy on climate, national security, trade and immigration.
Trump had angered China by taking a congratulatory call from the president of Taiwan and criticizing Beijing in a series of tweets over currency devaluation and tariffs.
"These people have given up fortunes of income in order to make $1 a year and they're so proud to do it", Trump said.
"The United States-Chinese bilateral relationship is at a critical point", he continued.
U.S. Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, praised Branstad as a "straight shooter with a successful track record as a chief executive". Governor Branstad cares deeply about business and agriculture. He noted her multiple global trade missions and her involvement in key appointments in his administration.
"Making sure to re-enforce the things that are important to the Midwest and in particular having his cellphone and being able to call him up and go, 'Hey, what's up with this trade deal?'" Ricketts said. He has strong relationship with Chinese leaders, including President Xi Jinping.