Xi Jinping heartland detour a hit

Michael Fitzgerald By Michael Fitzgerald

Xi Jinping (L) and Iowa farmer Rick Kimberley touring in a tractor in Iowa. (Reuters)

What Xi Jinping did in Iowa matters more than what he did in Washington, D.C.

That’s how the Chinese vice president’s visit to the United States is being played by one state-backed Chinese publication.

Xi will ascend to the presidency later this year. He came to America for high-level diplomatic meetings with U.S. President Barack Obama and other top officials. But then he went to visit acquaintances from a 1985 trip he took to a tiny Iowa town, Muscatine. He finished his trip in the Los Angeles area.

U.S. Asia experts hailed Xi’s side trips. “Let’s open different fronts. Let’s see that states like Iowa are happy with their interactions with the Chinese companies, Chinese political officials and provinces in China,” Derek Scissors, a research fellow at the Asian Studies Center of the conservative-leaning Heritage Foundation, told China Daily.

Scissors believes that if Chinese and U.S. politicians will get beyond each other’s capitals, it will help ease political tensions between the two nations.

Los Angeles was once called “Iowa with palm trees” by the U.S. journalist John Gunther, so perhaps it was fitting that Xi would go from Iowa to Los Angeles. While there, Xi spent a day touring with U.S. vice president Joe Biden. Xi was expected to take in a Lakers game Friday night in Los Angeles. China Daily wrote about Laker star Kobe Bryant’s efforts to create cultural connections between Los Angeles and China.

From the U.S., Xi will head to Ireland and Turkey before returning to China.

Straight to the Source