China’s VP on trade, Twain, Iowa ties (audio)

Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping delivered a toast during a banquet inside the state capitol in Des Moines, Iowa, last night.  Read about the event and listen to the toast from Xi and the welcoming toast from Iowa Governor Terry Branstad here.

Here is the text of what Xi said, through an interpreter, to the crowd:

“Governor Branstad and Mrs. Branstad, Secretary Vilsack, Ambassador Locke, Governor Brownback, Governor Snyder, ladies and gentlement, dear friends — good evening. Mr. Governor, I want to thank you for your warm speech and I want to thank our friends in Iowa for holding this grand welcoming dinner for us. Here I’d like to send my best regards to everyone present and to the over three million people of Iowa. 

“Coming to Iowa brings back many fond memories. In 1985 during my first visit to the United States I visited the State of Iowa and that was my first direct encounter with the people of the United States. Mr. Governor, at that time you were the youngest governor ever in the history of Iowa. I can still remember very fondly of the meeting you & I had during that trip. At that time I was the party secretary of Zhengding County of Hebei province in China. Originally it was the commissioner of Shigiazhuang district of our province that was to head our delegation to Iowa, but he was otherwise occupied and he asked me to come on his behalf and I happily accepted that mission.

“During that trip I had my first sighting of the Missisippi River. As a young boy I had read the novels of Mark Twain and I had long wanted to see for myself the picturesque scenery of the Mississippi, so during that trip, together with my American hosts, we explored the footsteps of Mark Twain in the town of Muscatine and together we enjoyed the unequalled beauty of Muscatine at sunset, to use his words.

“And I came away from that visit very impressed from my encounters with the people of Iowa, that the people of the United States — like the people of China — are honest, warm-hearted, hard-working and a friendly people and there is a tremendous reservoir of goodwill between the Chinese and American people and we each take great interest in the other. 

“During my first trip to Muscatine I stayed with a local family for two nights and this afternoon I made a special trip to Muscatine to meet with my old friends Mr. & Mrs. Lande and Mr. & Mrs. Dvorchak and others. Here, I want to say a special word of thanks to the Dvorchaks. Thank you for traveling a few thousand miles from Florida to be with us this evening. I also know that present tonight are many other good friends that I had met at that time in Iowa. I want to say to all of you it is such a joy to meet you again. 

“And it was such a joy to meet with Mr. Luca Barone just now. At that time he was working for the Iowa Sister Cities Friendship Committee and for over half a month he was our guide and our driver. He took us to places all across Iowa and we were overwhelmed by his warmth, hospitality and dedication. I know he’s now heading a very successful firm, (SACMI USA). I’m sure his business will continue to prosper.

“I’m visiting the United States this time to help implement the important consensus that has been reached between Hu Jintao and President Obama and I’m here to help build the China/US cooperative partnership based on mutual respect and mutual benefit and I want to engage with a broad cross-section of American society to help deepen the friendship between Chinese and American people.

“Sub-national cooperation is an important foundation for China/US relations. Over these last couple of years, sub-national exchanges and cooperation between our two countries has literally flourished and Iowa stands at the forefront of sub-national cooperation between China and the United States. According to some statistics, in the last decade Iowa’s exports to China have grown by almost 13 times and a large number of Iowa businesses — the Principal Financial Group, the Pioneer seed company and others — are performing well in China and right now over 3000 Chinese students are studying in Iowa.  I also know that earlier today at the Sino-American Agriculturual Products Trade and Cooperation Symposium held in Des Moines, the two sides signed 15 soybean purchase agreements whose total value reached $4.3 billion U.S. dollars.

“I’m happy to learn that over the years Iowa has made new progress in its economic and social development. Iowa continues to lead the whole country in agriculture and other sectors, and new and emerging industries such as wind power and bioenergy are thriving and are growing rapidly in your state. I also know that the level of your residents’ education and the business environment in Iowa is one of the best in the United States and Des Moines is at the top of the rankings. I sincerely hope that in the months and in the years ahead Iowa will continue to make new and bigger achievements. I hope Iowa will take an active part in economic, trade and investment cooperation between China and the United States.  China will actively encourage our enterprises to make investments in Iowa and to contribute to the creation of local jobs.

“I’m also happy to learn that the governors of Kansas and of Michigan are also with us this evening. We’d like to work with you to increase subnational exchanges in many different areas: industry, services, emerging sectors, you-name-it.

“According to the traditional Chinese calendar, this year there will be two springs and we believe when a year has two springs it will be a year of bumper harvest. I hope, through the joint efforts of both sides, the tree of friendship between China and the United States will, like the oak trees in your state, grow and bare right fruit and benefit not only this generation, but future generations as well. 

“Now, I’d like to propose a toast to the health of Mr. Governor & Mrs. Branstad and to the health of everyone present, to our friendship and to an even better tomorrow of the China/US cooperative partnership. Cheers!”

Here is the text of Governor Branstad’s toast:

“I am truly honored to formally welcome Vice President Xi Jinping from the People’s Republic of China to Iowa.

“Thank you, Vice President Xi, for accepting our invitation to return to Iowa – and thank you for taking time to visit old friends and meet new ones.

“On July 22, 1983, I signed the formal agreement with the then-Governor Zhang Shuguang that established the sister-state relationship between the state of Iowa and the Hebei Province of China.  In my remarks during that signing ceremony, I noted that this was a ‘diplomatic milestone for the state of Iowa’ and, nearly 29 years later, I realize the deeper significance of those words and how this longstanding friendship has flourished.

“As this sister-state relationship has shown, Iowans are sincere people who have actively participated in numerous exchanges with our Chinese friends.

“We are proud of our mutual beneficial trading partnership with China and Iowa farmers are proud to harvest safe and reliable agricultural products for use by the people of China.  We hope to build upon these partnerships in related areas where Iowa leads the world, such as biotechnology, advanced manufacturing, food processing, and financial services.

“We hope that this dinner tonight and your entire visit to Iowa will foster an even deeper friendship between Iowa and China, one that will continue to grow and benefit both of our peoples.

“In 1985, when you visited me here in the governor’s office, I was in my late thirties and serving my first term as governor.  At that time, you were in your early thirties and a local party leader in Shijiazhuang.  

“I am honored to once again serve as Iowa’s governor and have this historic opportunity to welcome you back to our state.  And so many Iowans are pleased that a man that we befriended those many years ago has risen to such an important position of prominence and respect in the great nation of China.

“I would ask all of you to please join me in raising our glasses to our long-time friend, Vice President Xi Jinping and the long-lasting friendship between Iowa and China.  To our friendship.”

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About O.Kay Henderson

O. Kay Henderson is the news director of Radio Iowa.