By TIM RYAN
WASHINGTON (CN) – President-elect Donald Trump has chosen Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad as his ambassador to China, Bloomberg reported Tuesday night.
Branstad has had a close relationship Chinese President Xi Jinping since meeting him in 1985, meaning the pick could help calm any tensions that arose when Trump took a controversial call with the president of Taiwan last week.
The long-time Republican governor met Jinping when the Chinese president was an agricultural official making a trip to Iowa during a “sister-state exchange” and the two have met multiples times in the years since, according to the South China Morning Post.
“Governor Branstad’s decades of experience in public service and long-time relationship with President Xi Jinping and other Chinese leaders make him the ideal choice to serve as America’s Ambassador to China,” Trump said. “He successfully developed close trade ties with China while serving as chief executive of the Hawkeye State. That experience will serve him well as he represents America’s interests and further develops a mutually beneficial relationship with Chinese leadership.”
Trump met with Branstad in New York City on Tuesday, according to his spokesman, and though the transition team has not officially confirmed the appointment, the Chinese government praised the decision Wednesday.
“Branstad is an old friend of China and [we] welcome him to play a bigger role in China- US relations,” Lu Kang, a spokesman for the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said in a press conference Wednesday. “The role of US ambassador to China serves as an important bridge in communication between China and the United States and no matter who is picked, China would like to work together with him to push forward the healthy and stable development of China-US relations.”
Branstad served as Iowa governor from 1983 to 1999 and was then re-elected in 2010 after a stint as president of the Des Moines University.