Trump taps Branstad as China ambassador: report

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President-elect Donald Trump has asked Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad (R) to serve as his ambassador to China, Bloomberg Politics reported Wednesday.

{mosads}Branstad, a longtime friend of Chinese president Xi Jinping, accepted the offer, the report said.

Chinese foreign minister Lu Kang on Wednesday called Branstad an “old friend” of the Chinese people during a regular press briefing.

“We’d welcome him to play a bigger role in advancing China-U.S. relations,” he said. “No matter who takes this position, we’re willing to work together to push the Sino-U.S. relationship to consistent, healthy and steady development.”

Branstad, 70, is the longest-serving governor in U.S. history. He was Iowa’s governor from 1983 to 1999, then began his second stint in 2011.

Branstad first met Xi when the latter visited Iowa in 1985 during a sister-state exchange, and the two men reconnected multiple times since then.

Trump’s relationship with China got off to a rocky start after the president-elect spoke by phone with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen last week.

The conversation broke decades of U.S. diplomatic protocol, marking the first conversation between an American leader and their Taiwanese counterpart since 1979, when the U.S. and Taiwan severed ties.

Branstad, if confirmed, would face challenges with China including trade policy, state-sponsored computer hacking and territorial disputes over the South China Sea.

Tags Ambassadors China Diplomacy Donald Trump Foreign policy Iowa Politics

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