President-elect Donald Trump has named his pick for ambassador to China: Republican Gov. Terry Branstad of Iowa.
Branstad has accepted the offer. He is a longtime friend of Chinese President Xi Jinping and the longest-serving governor in U.S. history, leading Iowa from 1983 to 1999 and again since 2011.
On Tuesday, Branstad met Trump in Trump Tower, but did not say whether or not he had been offered a position. Trump is expected to speak in Iowa on Thursday as part of his victory tour.
“Governor Branstad’s decades of experience in public service and long-time relationship with President Xi Jinping and other Chinese leaders make him the ideal choice to serve as America’s Ambassador to China,” Trump said in a statement announcing appointment. “He successfully developed close trade ties with China while serving as chief executive of the Hawkeye State. That experience will serve him well as he represents America’s interests and further develops a mutually beneficial relationship with Chinese leadership.”
For 22 years, I have been honored and privileged to serve the people of Iowa as their governor, Branstad said in a separate statement. "During our 30-year friendship, President Xi Jinping and I have developed a respect and admiration for each other, our people and our cultures. The United States - Chinese bilateral relationship is at a critical point. Ensuring the countries with the two largest economies and two largest militaries in the world maintain a collaborative and cooperative relationship is needed more now than ever."
Branstad and Xi
Branstad first met Xi in 1985, when Xi was an agricultural official. The men have met multiple times since, and China is Iowa's second-largest export market behind Canada, Bloomberg reports.
Trump called Branstad a "prime candidate to take care of China" days before the election. Branstad was a stout Trump supporter, and his son Eric was the director of Trump's campaign in Iowa. The state favored Trump over Hillary Clinton by about 9 percentage points.
Trump and China
Branstad will face an uphill battle from the get-go -- Trump's conversation with the leader of Taiwan has rankled Chinese officials who do not recognize Taiwanese independence.
Trump initially said the call was a brief message of congratulations, but it was later reported that it had been planned for months.
Trump has also accused China of manipulating its currency and sponsoring hacking of American servers.
Did China ask us if it was OK to devalue their currency (making it hard for our companies to compete), heavily tax our products going into..— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 4, 2016
Here's a sample of Trump's recent tweetstorm on China's monetary policy.
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