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Holden backs Trump’s pick for China ambassador

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – News broke in early December that President-elect Donald Trump selected Terry Branstad to serve as the U.S. ambassador to China.

Gov. Terry Branstad
Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad

“Governor Branstad obviously is Iowa’s longest-serving governor, someone who has considerable public policy experience but also someone who has a lot of experience and great grasp of trade issues, agriculture issues, has a tremendous understanding of China and Chinese people [and] is someone who very much impressed the president-elect,” Trump transition spokesman Jason Miller told reporters. “It’s very clear that Governor Branstad is someone who will represent our country well on the world stage, and we couldn’t be prouder of this selection.”

The move has also received the approval of Missouri’s former Democratic governor Bob Holden, who says that the Iowa governor is the right choice for such a position.

“I think it’s a good selection. Gov. Branstad is known in Iowa as someone who is willing to work with people across the aisle,” Holden said. “He’s from the Midwest, and seems to be a moderate on most issues, and I think he’ll represent the United States very well.”

Holden says that a good ambassador can represent the interests of the U.S. in a fair and open way. He says they must be willing to listen to other points of view and willing to work together. Holden has met with Gov. Branstad in the past, and is set to meet with him again in February.

He believes that Branstad can be the bridge between the U.S. and China, which can be beneficial to the Midwest’s economy. Holden is the chairman of the Midwest U.S.-China Association, whose goal is to open up new economic, social and financial partnerships between states in the Midwest and China.

“It’s time we start working with all of the twelve states in the Midwest as one unit,” Holden said. He says that if the Midwest works as a region, they can capitalize on the strengths of each state.

He says that the lines of communication need to stay open between China and the U.S. because not only of their prowess in industry, but their effects on the environment and pollution concerns.

Holden also says that the opportunities for education have benefits for both countries, as does the sharing of cultures.

holden cropped

“There are a lot of very bright young people in China, and many of them want to come to the United States to get a good education. Many of them would stay here if given the opportunity, and work for our businesses, our companies and our agricultural programs, enriching our country,” Holden said. “They’re either going to stay here and build on what we have to offer, or go back to China, taking our values and what they have learned with them.”

The Republican governor has extensive ties to China, as well as a personal friendship with Chinese President Xi Jinping which goes back for decades.

China’s President Xi Jinping holds a special place in his heart for the Midwest, having stayed in Iowa decades ago. Xi arrived in Muscatine for two weeks in April of 1985 as part of a Chinese delegation looking into farming technology.

“You were the first group of Americans I came into contact with,” Xi told his Iowa friends during a return trip to the U.S. “To me, you are America.”

“That’s why it’s so important to continue to build those relationships among our cultures, particularly among the young people in our cultures,” Holden said. “When you get to know someone, and you have a difference of opinion, you are much more likely to be able to sit down and figure out how to solve it.”

The move has been seen by some as an opportunity to smooth the relationship between China’s leadership and the newly elected President Trump.

Trump attacked China on the campaign trail, over trade and currency policies, as well as threatening to impose harsh tariffs on China.

Branstad has accepted the offer and now awaits a Senate confirmation.