Travelers on the Mason City Chamber of Commerce trip to China this week visited Ambassador Terry Branstad at the American Embassy in Beijing. Chamber officials lined up the hour-long visit with the former Iowa governor to discuss trade opportunities in China, global relations, and the current political climate.
The Embassy was a busy place as the Mason City contingent visited during the 19th National Communist Party Congress in Beijing, and embassy officials were also preparing for President Trump’s visit in early November. Security measures were extremely stringent.
Ambassador Branstad was generous with his time, sharing information about his work as the American Ambassador, as well as personal anecdotes about his family’s adjustment to life in the world’s most populous country. In addition to his wife, Chris, the ambassador’s daughter, son-in-law, and two grandchildren made the move to Beijing. His daughter, Allyson, and her husband Jared work as teachers and their children are enrolled at an international school there.
Branstad believes great opportunity exists to increase trade relationships between the U.S. and China, especially given the popular Chinese president’s deep affection for Iowa. President Xi Jinping has commissioned construction of a farming operation in a nearby province that replicates a farm in Iowa. Branstad noted renewable fuels and renewable fuel technology is of particular interest—and need—in China.
He shared that President Trump will be accompanied by more than 30 U.S. business leaders when they come to China next month. This government/business delegation is unprecedented in U.S./Chinese foreign relations.
The Mason City Chamber of Commerce has a robust global familiarization travel program. As a strategy to assist Iowans in transitioning to the global economy, the chamber sponsors two international group trips annually to countries which are important U.S. trading partners that people may not be comfortable visiting on their own. This was the chamber’s fourth trip to China. In 2018, the chamber will sponsor a trip to Germany in March and to Japan in August. For more information on group travel opportunities, contact the Mason City Chamber of Commerce.