Vice president Xi Jinping (习近平), the man widely tipped to take over leadership reins from president Hu Jintao very soon, is due for a visit to Iowa. The state’s governor Terry Branstad has rolled out the red carpet even before Xi’s arrival, describing his trip as the biggest thing that’s happened to Iowa since Pope John Paul II visited in 1979:
“I’d say it ranks with the Pope’s visit to Living History Farm and (Soviet premier Nikita) Khrushchev’s visit here to Iowa in 1959,” Governor Terry Branstad told reporters.
The Pope’s visit drew 350,000 people while Khrushchev’s tour of a farm in Coon Rapids, helped humanize the superpowers at the height of the Cold War.
“This one I think for the economic future of our state is even more significant,” Branstad said.
On a trip to China last year, Branstad was “amazed” to hear that Xi had kept the itinerary from his 1985 trip to Musatine, Iowa. He said he hoped to draw in more business by leveraging on the state’s “personal relationship” with Xi.