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People's Daily Online>>Foreign Affairs

Iowa to welcome return of Xi Jinping

By Paul Eckert (Shanghai Daily)

08:29, February 13, 2012

From the power centers of Washington to a soybean farm in Iowa and on to sunny Southern California, China's Vice President Xi Jinping will sample diverse slices of America during a major visit this week.

His host from today will be US Vice President Joe Biden, who visited China and held talks with Xi last August.

During the week, Xi will meet President Barack Obama at the White House, lunch with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and call on Defense Secretary Leon Panetta at the Pentagon.

While Xi's White House meetings will take place on Valentine's Day tomorrow, he will not be accompanied on the trip by his wife, singer Peng Liyuan, US officials said.

Xi will go to Capitol Hill on Wednesday to meet senior US senators and House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner, US officials said.

After Washington, Xi goes to Iowa, where he will be reunited with a family in Muscatine he stayed with briefly in 1985, when he was an animal-feed official in central China's Hebei Province, Iowa's sister province.

Terry Branstad, the Iowa governor who was also governor during Xi's earlier visit, told Reuters he considered China's vice president an "old friend" and said this week's visit was part reunion and part business opportunity for the soybean- and corn-exporting state.

Branstad called on Xi last September in Beijing, where the two reminisced about Xi's fondness for Iowa hospitality.

Although the stopover will be brief, Branstad said "Iowa Nice" would be on full display for 58-year-old Xi, who also visited Oregon and New Jersey when he was governor of provinces with ties to those states.

The governor's 5-year-old granddaughter, Mackenzie, will present flowers to Xi when he lands in Des Moines, said Branstad. The Marriott Hotel in Des Moines has added two Chinese TV channels for the visit, hotel staff said.

The state will fete Xi with an "Iowa meal" featuring pork, beef, soybeans and corn, said Branstad.

"Iowa Nice does pay off," he said. "We treated him very nice when he came here in 1985. We made a friend." Iowa's exports to China grew 12-fold to US$627 million from 2000 to 2010.

In Xi's final stop, he will visit the Port of Los Angeles to showcase the huge port's role in facilitating trans-Pacific trade.

Xi will be the star of the China-US Economic and Trade Forum attended by hundreds of US business officials and to which Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and California Governor Jerry Brown have invited the governors of all 50 states.

Hollywood does not yet appear on the agenda - even though Xi famously told the US ambassador over dinner in Beijing in 2007 that he liked Hollywood films, and that he found US World War II movies "grand and truthful."

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