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President Xi's Midwestern US 'Home' Looking for New Trade Frontiers

Apr 6, 2017

*Reposted from

President Xi Jinping is no stranger to the U.S. As a young man, he found a home in an unlikely part of the American Midwest that has become a cradle for trade with China. 

But how does a state that helped Donald Trump become president deal with his hostility to China?

CGTN’s Owen Fairclough reports. 

President Xi Jinping drank their Iowa wine when he returned to a state he calls home as vice president in 2012.

“It was honestly a really cool thing at the time – so unexpected when he came and tried our wines – it was a real honor to be a part of that and now that he’s coming back it shows again his ties to Iowa,” Mason Groben of Jasper Winery said.

Jasper Winery is leveraging that presidential seal of approval, looking to expand in China after an initial export of nearly a thousand bottles.

But wine isn’t the only Iowan product China is interested in. Iowa’s witnessing a new trend: a surge of not just Chinese money, but cultural interest.

President Xi has made this small town on the Mississippi River an unlikely destination for Chinese visitors curious to see where he stayed briefly in the mid-1980s as a young official studying agriculture.

Businessman and founder of Muscatine’s Sino-US Friendship House, Glad Cheng, has turned a home into a cultural center to foster China – US relations.

But it’s clear both sides needed to adjust.

“At the beginning they don’t understand me I also don’t understand them so it takes us three years staying here,” Cheng said.

And local Republicans are also adjusting to how U.S. President Donald Trump will cultivate the relationship with Xi.

“There are definite concerns about the tariffs that may be placed on China. Hopefully we can find a policy that fits our interests but at the same time doesn’t alienate any economic opportunities we have with China,” Jeff Kaufman, Chairman of Iowa Republicans said.

Even so, a trade war with China would be problematic for Iowa, having invested so much both financially and emotionally in China.

How many times has President Xi visited the U.S.?

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