DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Gov. Terry Branstad and China's consul general are stressing the importance of trade in advance of a visit to Iowa by China's vice president.
Speaking Wednesday at a Statehouse news conference, Consul General Yang Guoqaing noted that China's relationship with Iowa is vital because the state is an agricultural powerhouse. He says it's in the interest of both Iowa and China to increase trade.
"Iowa is the heart of the farmland in the U.S.," said Yang. "This is our most important bilateral relationship in the world. The friendship will be profound forever."
Branstad said his history with China goes back to a visit he made there in 1984. Branstad said he's committed to improving trade relations with China, and he credited exports for the strong commodity prices enjoyed by Iowa's farmers.
"Iowa farmers understand it's no accident we have sky-high prices for corn and soybeans," said Branstad.
The two officials spoke before next week's visit of Vice President Xi Jinping. He'll make stops in Muscatine and Des Moines.
Branstad said the visit is even more important because Xi is set to become China's next leader.
The governor said he met with Xi on his last trip to China last year and the two hit it off.
"We thought we were going to have a 15-minute meeting and it lasted 50 minutes," said Branstad, who said he took the opportunity to invite Xi to again visit Iowa. "We were warmly welcomed there."
Yang noted that there are 3,349 Chinese students studying at Iowa colleges.
Branstad said details of next week's visit are still being finalized, but it will likely include a visit to an Iowa farm and an event at the World Food Prize headquarters.