27 Yrs. Later, Chinese V.P. to Make Second Iowa Visit

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DES MOINES, Iowa - Chinese Vice-President Xi Jinping will revisit the American heartland next week after more than 27 years.

Xi will reunite with Iowa Governor Terry Branstad, who had previously hosted Vice- President Xi back in 1985 in the small, charming city of Muscatine located near the Mississippi River. On Feb 15, Xi will attend a reception and a dinner at the Iowa Capitol in Des Moines.

"My wife, my children and grandchildren will all greet Xi at the airport and my eldest granddaughter will present a big bouquet of flowers to him," Branstad said.

The Chinese leader will then most likely attend an agriculture symposium and visit a farm in Iowa on the next day, the governor said.

At the invitation of US Vice- President Joe Biden, Xi will visit the United States on Feb 13-16. He will first arrive in Washington DC to meet with US President Barack Obama and other government officials, and then leave for Iowa and Los Angeles.

Back in 1985, Xi, then a local official in Hebei province, led a delegation to Iowa to learn about agricultural technologies. Hebei and Iowa cemented province-state ties in 1983.

Xi's five-member delegation received a warm welcome in the Midwestern state and developed an apparently close relationship with the people of Iowa over their two-week stay.

"The reason (Xi decided to revisit Iowa) is because of the friendship," Chinese Consul General of Chicago Yang Guoqiang said at a news conference in Chicago on Wednesday.

"The hospitality of Iowa and the Midwest is quite well-known among Chinese people because of Chinese President Hu Jintao's visit last year and the story of Xi."

During Hu's visit to the US last January, he visited Chicago and met local students and business leaders.

"This visit (of Xi) will be an incredible opportunity to educate Iowans how significant the relationship between China and Iowa is, and how long it has been going on (since 1980s)," Branstad said.

Iowa's exports to China have increased by approximately 1,300 percent from 2000-2010, according to the US-China Business Council. Main exports include crop production, machinery and processed foods.

"China represents a growing opportunity for furthering mutual investments and trade, including (in the) manufacturing sector," said Iowa Lieutenant Governor Kim Reynolds.

Several deals between China and Iowa in agricultural products and machineries will be inked during Xi's stay in the state, Yang said.