President-elect Donald Trump has officially tapped Iowa Governor Terry Branstad as the next U.S. Ambassador to China. Branstad previously met with Trump in New York on Tuesday. Branstad’s appointment and experience with China’s president shows that Trump is willing to work with China despite his criticism of the country.
The appointment comes as Trump sparked tension with China after accepting a phone call from Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen, breaking 40 years of silence between the two countries. Branstad is currently the governor of Iowa and has served since 2011 and previously served from 1983-1999.
Trump has been critical of China, accusing them of manipulating is currency and trying to cheat our country with unfair trade policies. China’s government appears to publicly approve of Trump’s pick telling the press
“We welcome him to play a greater role in advancing the development of China-U.S. relations,” “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.”
Brandstad is a personal friend of China’s President Xi Jinping, from his earlier days as a provincial agriculture official. Branstad was a strong back of the campaign and helped him carry Iowa in November. Trump previously called Branstad “our prime candidate to take care of China.” Branstad has had a strong relationship with the Chinese leader and used their friendship along with agriculture policies to discuss with China serious issues including: human rights, economic issues and other political issues.
Challenges facing Branstad as ambassador would include: Trump’s trade policy, China’s recent sponsored hacking and China’s hostile territorial claims in the South China Sea. Taiwan is a self-ruled Democratic country, but China claims the island is one of its provinces. Despite China and the U.S. differences on certain issues, they have worked together on climate change and the Iran nuclear deal.
With Branstad’s confirmation, Iowa would then have its first female governor with Lt. Governor Kim Reynolds taking the reins as governor. Branstad told the media he’s excited about the quality of people Trump is putting in his cabinet. While Trump continues to fill his cabinet, he has not named his next Secretary of State.