IOWA May be Pearl in Eye of China’s Next Emperor


China’s Vice President Xi Jinping is widely seen in Beijing power circles as Hu Jintao’s likely successor as General Secretary of the Communist Party of China and President of the People’s Republic of China.
There is an increasing amount of reporting about him as his ascendancy becomes more clear, but one of the interesting tidbits I have learned in the last few days is that Xi really loves Iowa. Of those politicians I have met here who know Vice President Xi, they all know that he spent a bit of time — just a few days apparently — near Des Moines, Iowa. And he fell in love with the small town feel of the place — and a particular family.
I haven’t been able to learn more than that — but if he does secure China’s top job, Iowa may be the pearl in the eye of China’s next emperor.
— Steve Clemons


11 comments on “IOWA May be Pearl in Eye of China’s Next Emperor

  1. Drew says:

    It’s unlikely that anyone here has heard of Chrystal, so here is a
    summary of his work with the USSR. Chrystal had a degree from
    Iowa and another from a community college. He’s exemplary of
    Iowa internationalism and practical engagement.
    “Chrystal’s ties to the Soviet Union began in 1958 when he met
    Nikita Khrushchev during the Soviet premier’s visit to Iowa and
    the Garst family farm. In 1960 and 1963 Chrystal and Roswell
    Garst traveled together to the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe
    as citizen ambassadors and agricultural advisors. In 1972, Garst
    and Chrystal hosted another Russian delegation to Iowa, this
    time to Coon Rapids. Between 1960 and 1989, Chrystal was
    invited repeatedly to visit the Soviet Union to offer advice about
    agriculture. He visited approximately sixteen times and led
    efforts to help modernize farming and agricultural infrastructure
    systems in Russia, Georgia, and Ukraine and to improve trade
    relations between those countries and the United States. In 1994,
    President Clinton appointed Chrystal to the Overseas Private
    Investment Corporation (OPIC), a federal agency with economic
    development projects in the former Soviet Union. Chrystal was
    an active member, serving as a board member and director of
    OPIC. In 1995, Chrystal accompanied United States President Bill
    Clinton on his trip to Moscow, Russia, Kiev, and the Ukraine.”


  2. drew says:

    Very plausible, says one guy who divides him time between DC and
    rural northwestern Iowa.
    More seriously, Iowa has a long tradition of modest, globalist,
    involved intellectuals and businessmen: Borlaug, Henry Wallace and
    his family, Harry Hopkins, Roswell Garst, John Chrystal. The soviets
    felt unable to contemplate food security without engaging their
    friends in Iowa; perhaps Xi has concluded the same. There isn’t a
    more productive, wealthier agricultural economy in the world. It
    would make a lot of sense for Xi to bypass east coast mandarin
    thinking, if he’s curious about feeding his country and borrowing
    best educational, agricultural and community practices.


  3. JohnH says:

    More on today’s BIG foreign affairs news story–the summit in Beirut:


  4. Don Bacon says:

    The first sentence should refer to the QDR Independent Panel Report, not to the QDR itself.


  5. Don Bacon says:

    At the risk of becoming obnoxious with repetition, I again point readers toward the Quadrennial Defense (QDR) Review just now hitting the street. China is a part of it.
    The final report of the Quadrennial Defense Review Independent Panel is a critique of America


  6. Stanley Douglas says:

    If he returns, the unpleasnt racket eminating from the heartland
    may change his opinion.


  7. The Truth says:

    @ Dan Bacon
    Yeah because those same trade agreements really work to America’s advantage, what with its debt in the trillions of dollars, job losses to corporate offshoring, crippling of its manufacturing sector, etc, etc. Strangely enough, when Germany and China sign trade agreement deals, it’s justified in the Schumpterian spirit of promoting international peace and co-operation.
    Good god with Americans like you, who needs enemies?


  8. rich says:

    Iowa is not what people like to think.
    ‘Small-town’ Iowans — I’ll dispense with the Prairie Home Companion levity — have a longstanding cosmopolitan habit of welcoming leaders and religious orders, and often the process imbues a whole town with an unexpected flavor.
    As a result, the region boasts Vedic City, Iowa:
    and that’s been good for business:
    And of course the Algerian George Washington is the namesake of Elkader, Iowa:
    So we’ll welcome VP Xi Jinping : it sounds like there’s an Iowa town that offers a good fit for him as well. Par for the course — for some of us.
    What else, what else . .. . oh, yeah! Everybody can get married there.
    Of course, all this isn’t new: the Upper Midwest hosted German POWs as farm labor — elderly ex-Nazi prisoners had worked the land: no guards, no fences and no torture — and returned for bus tours of the land they came to love, and with tears streaming down their faces, they recalled the kindness with which they were treated and the gratitude they felt, even decades later.
    Also, Iowa farmers follow Illinois statehouse politics pretty well, with larger implications for the other 50 states than Chris Matthews is able to grasp.
    (excerpt from link above)
    “As part of the Sister City’s philosophy,” Olson said, “we should cross borders in friendship, not war.”
    On their visit, the Americans heard about Algeria’s own struggle with fundamentalist extremists. They dined on Algerian cuisine and visited the nation’s landmarks. In a moving ceremony outside Mascara, they planted trees at a monument to El-Kader. For the rural Iowans, most from northern European immigrant backgrounds, it was an “unforgettable experience.”
    “Just as we had preconceived notions of their society, and Islam,” Olson said, “they had built their image of America around the movies. They thought our country was full of mobsters.”
    When a Mascara delegation arrived in Elkader the next year, the town hosted a parade, led by the high school marching band, which played the Algerian national anthem.
    “It blew their minds,” Olson said. “It was a very emotional exchange, because all of the barriers came down on that trip. We became friends, and it was a tearful day when they left. Following that we had a youth exchange.”


  9. Don Bacon says:

    The US is currently throwing stones at China, while Germany takes a different approach.
    from WaPo:
    “The Obama administration has adopted a tougher tone with China in recent weeks. . . .The United States unveiled a new policy that rejected China’s claims to sovereignty over the whole South China Sea. It rebuffed Chinese demands that the U.S. military end its longtime policy of conducting military exercises in the Yellow Sea. And it is putting new pressure on Beijing not to increase its energy investments in Iran as Western firms leave.
    “The U.S. maneuvers have prompted a backlash among Chinese officialdom and its state-run press, which has accused the United States of trying to contain China.” (end WaPo extract)
    Germany is taking a different tack. German Chancellor Angela Merkel made a recent four-day visit to China, a move widely expected to boost the countries’ bilateral economic ties and political interactions. The fourth visit of Merkel to China since she took office in 2005 is part of the high-level interactions boosting the bilateral ties. Nearly half of Germany


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