Branstad accepts Trump's offer to serve as China ambassador

Branstad accepts Trump's offer to serve as China ambassador
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Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad (R) accepted President-elect Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpSchiff urges GOP colleagues to share private concerns about Trump publicly US-China trade talks draw criticism for lack of women in pictures Overnight Defense: Trump to leave 200 troops in Syria | Trump, Kim plan one-on-one meeting | Pentagon asks DHS to justify moving funds for border wall MORE’s offer to serve as U.S. ambassador to China, a Trump transition spokesman confirmed Wednesday. 


Jason Miller told reporters Branstad accepted the position, touting the governor’s knowledge and expertise on trade and China. Miller said an official announcement will come later in the day.

“Gov. Branstad is a long-serving governor and also someone who has a lot of experience and great grasp of trade issues, agriculture issues, and has a tremendous understanding of China and the Chinese people,” Miller said.

“He very much impressed the president-elect, not just on the campaign trail but in the meetings after the election,” he continued. “He’ll represent the country well on the world stage, and we’re very proud of this selection.” 

Branstad, a longtime friend of Chinese president Xi Jinping, is the longest-serving governor in U.S. history. He served from 1983 to 1999, and was elected to serve again in 2011.

The governor met Xi for the first time when the Chinese president visited Iowa in 1985.

Chinese foreign minister Lu Kang called Branstad an “old friend” at a press briefing, according to Bloomberg, which first reported the news. 

“We’d welcome him to play a bigger role in advancing China-U.S. relations,” Kang 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.”

Trump, who frequently railed against China during the campaign, broke decades of U.S. diplomatic protocol by taking a phone call with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen last week.

Trump’s team defended the call, saying the Taiwanese president reached out to him. The call was the first conversation between an American leader and their Taiwanese counterpart since 1979, when China and Taiwan severed ties.

- Updated at 11:19 a.m.