President-elect Donald Trump is set to announce his pick for one of the most crucial ambassadorships of his administration: China. Independent Journal Review can confirm the president-elect is meeting with Iowa Governor Terry Branstad for the post. That meeting will take place next week in New York.
Branstad, who just three weeks ago at his 70th birthday party in Altoona, Iowa, told the Des Moines Register that he was “leaving the door open” in case Trump reached out about the job, has a particularly close relationship with China President Xi Jinping. Branstad added, “I’m not ruling anything out.”
Iowa has been a friendly partner of sorts for several years with China, based predominantly on the exchange of business in the agricultural realm; Branstad was instrumental in those efforts.Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad greets Chinese President Xi Jinping before a forum for U.S. And Chinese governors September 22, 2015 in Seattle, Washington. Xi is on his first state visit to the U.S. Image Credit: Bettina Hansen-Pool/Getty Images
The governor’s friendship and familiarity with China has not gone unnoticed by Trump, who before the presidential election at his final rally in Sioux City on November 6th, called out Branstad from the stage and said:
Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump speaks during a rally at the Sioux City Convention Center in Sioux City, Iowa on November 6, 2016. Image Credit: Mandel Ngan//AFP/Getty Images
“I think there’s nobody that knows more about trade than him. He’s one of the ones. In dealing with China, boy, you would be our prime candidate to take care of China. He has done so, so well for the people of Iowa. Nobody knows it better.”
Branstad, according to a source close to the transition, agrees he’s the man to get it done and will likely accept Trump’s nomination. With everything from nuclear weapons, trade, tech, cybersecurity, Russia relations, and the threat of North Korea on the table, Branstad will have his work cut out for him.
During the campaign, Trump accused China of “ripping us off on trade,” devaluing its currency, and waging “economic war” on the U.S.
Tensions are high this week, as well; China’s foreign minister lodged a complaint Saturday over a phone call Trump took from Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen. China does not recognize Taiwan’s independence, and the call broke 37 years of diplomatic precedent. The last publicly reported call between a president or president-elect and a Taiwanese leader was 1979, according to CNN.
IJR reached out to Governor Branstad’s spokesperson, and the Trump transition team; neither sent a response by deadline. Branstad’s could be the first major United States ambassadorship to be announced by Trump, not including South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley to the United Nations, who Trump tapped 10 days ago.