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Li Zhao Discusses the Next Ambassador to China

May 2, 2017

*Reposted from

Video Transcript

CGTN's Asieh Namdar: "And we just saw Li Zhao in your piece Owen, she certainly has a unique insight as the President and Co-found of China Iowa Group. She joins us live now via Skype from Des Moines, Iowa. What does Terry Branstad, if confirmed by the Senate bring to the table as the next Ambassador of China that previous ambassadors did not bring?"

Li Zhao: "Well, if confirmed, Ambassador Branstad brings a lot of things that we believe the previous Ambassador did not bring. First of all, he has a personal connection and relationship with the President of China which is really unique and rare. This provides him with leverage in case things do not go well, he has the opportunity to come back and tackle the challenges and work things behind the scenes. Secondly, he is a trade expert, he has been promoting Iowa for the last three decades, he understands how trade works and will be very helpful to smooth things out when things do not go so well. Also, I just listened to his confirmation hearing and he was talking about how he would love to visit every province in China once be becomes the Ambassador. We believe that's his hallmark signature item when he was the Governor of Iowa he visited all 99 counties which show's his commitment to the state, connection to people, and that he gets things done. We believe that he will bring the same commitment and passion to China to make the relationship into even a better place."

CGTN's Owen Fairclough: "You mentioned Governor Branstad's opening statement, he also talked about some fairly contentious issues about the South China Sea, cyber security, and trade rules. These are difficult subjects, how easily do you think the Governor will be able to discuss those kinds of subjects with the Chinese leadership?"

Li Zhao: "Those are certainly tough issues and Governor Brandstad knows that very well. Having said that, that is why we think Governor Branstad will be in a better position than his predecessors because he can utilize that personal connection with President Xi and President Xi's team around him. They are never easy (discussions) but we think with that connection, Governor Branstad can really help to look at all of those issues in a new light."

CGTN's Asieh Namdar: "Finally Branstad has a 30+ year relationship with President Xi, can you give us some insight into this friendship that really goes back to 1985."

Li Zhao: "Yes, it is the story that everyone talks about here in Iowa we are very humble and proud. We joke about it saying "hey, I wonder who will be the next President of China" because we have so many Chinese visitors following the footsteps of President Xi. They want to come to Iowa, they want to visit every place that President Xi spent time back in 1985 when he was just a county level official. I think it is because of the hospitality, down to earth, and Midwestern values that are really attractive to President Xi when he was just entering into the political scene and it was his first trip to the United States.  I think that general connection between him and Governor Branstad sets stage under that circumstance."

CGTN's Asieh Namdar: "And that genuine connection is so important. And we should add Terry Branstad is expected to be confirmed by the full Senate next week to become the next U.S. Ambassador to China."

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