Governor Terry Branstad heads to D.C. this week to meet with lawmakers and the state department officials about his nomination as Ambassador to China.
Speaking to reporters during his weekly press conference at the Iowa State Capitol, Governor Branstad said he has a busy schedule through Thursday.
“I’m looking forward to it. I’ll meet with a number of senators and meet with people from the state department and get briefed. I also have some briefing material to study on the way out there too.”
Branstad said he will meet with Senator Bob Corker of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and other members. The governor is in a unique position because of his close ties with Chinese President Xi Jinping, who President Trump is meeting with later this week at his resort in Mar-a-Lago.
“April 29, 1985, Xi Jinping led a Ag delegation here. He was so impressed with the friendliness and hospitality of Iowans he calls us old friends.” Branstad said.
In Chinese culture, long term friendships are very important.
“President Xi calls me and the other Iowans he met old friends. We had the old friends reunion here in 2012. He was so moved by that, he hosted an old friends reunion in Beijing with the young men that came with him back in 85’ some of which I don’t think he had seen in years.”
Branstad said he has a lot to learn if confirmed as ambassador, one being the language.
“I know a few words like Nihau and Xi Xi but they do have interpreters over there. I’ve worked to learn appropriate names of the Chinese leaders and communities in China. I’ve been to China six times but this is a huge responsibility and I am going to learn as much as I can.”
He respects the fact this is a different role than what he has had as governor.
“I will be representing the U.S. as Ambassador to China but I hope my long-term friendship and relationship with the leadership of China and the Chinese people can help me communicate some issues we need to get resolved between our two countries and there are many.”
Branstad confirmed he will not attend the meeting between Trump and Jinping later this week and does not know a timetable for hearings yet.