WASHINGTON, December 7, 2016 – President-elect Donald Trump has officially tapped Terry Branstad as the next U.S. Ambassador to China. Branstad met with Trump in New York on Tuesday.
The appointment of the Iowa governor who has served since 2011 and previously served from 1983-1999 as Ambassador to China indicates that President-elect Donald J. Trump wants to find a way to work with one one of America’s most complex foreign relationships 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.
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 beginning back when Jinping was a provincial agriculture official. Brandstad was a strong backer of the Trump campaign and helped him carry Iowa in November. Trump previously called Branstad “our prime candidate to take care of China.”
Branstad strong relationship with the Chinese leader has allowed conversations with China on serious issues including: human rights, economic issues and other political issues.
Challenges facing the new ambassador will include Trump’s trade policy, China’s recent sponsored hacking and China’s hostile territorial claims against Taiwan in the South China Sea. Taiwan is a self-ruled Democratic country, but China claims the island is one of its provinces and seeks the “One China” governmental rule that does not recognize Taiwan’s sovereignty.
Despite China and the U.S. differences on certain issues, the governments 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 stepping forward. 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.