China welcomed today the US Senate’s confirmation of Iowa Governor Terry Branstad as US ambassador to Beijing, praising his “positive role” in Sino-US relations. Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying expressed hope that Branstad will help the relationship “develop in a sound and steady way” after assuming his post.
“For a long time, Mr Branstad has been playing a positive role in promoting bilateral exchanges and friendship,” Hua said during a regular press briefing today. The longest-serving governor in US history, the 70-year- old Branstad has known Chinese President Xi Jinping since the mid-1980s when the Asian leader visited Iowa as a provincial official.
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His confirmation, by a bipartisan vote of 82 to 13, comes as US President Donald Trump is looking to Beijing, its biggest rival and trading partner, to step up economic pressure on North Korea’s irascible regime.
Trump repeatedly attacked China’s trade policies during last year’s presidential election. But his aggressive tone has softened since his inauguration, including doing an about-face after months of branding China a currency manipulator.