October 24, 2020

China’s vice president shows personal side in Iowa 


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MUSCATINE, Iowa (AP) — China’s vice president remembered the popcorn he’d received as a parting gift — and the strong Chinese liquor he left behind. He recalled one young girl asking whether he’d seen American movies, and being shocked when he told her he’d watched “The Godfather.” And he often flashed that warm smile.

Twenty-seven years after Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping met a group of Iowa farmers and business leaders during a diplomatic exchange to this Mississippi River town, the likely future leader of the world’s most populous country returned Wednesday for a brief reunion to reminisce with the first Americans he ever met.

“My impression of the country came from you. For me, you are America,” Xi told a group of about 16 people he referred to as
“old friends.”

The relaxed gathering in front of a fireplace in Roger and Sarah Lande’s living room in Muscatine was a stark contrast to the more subdued, party-line approach Xi had while meeting with U.S. leaders in Washington earlier this week. During talks with President Barack Obama, members of Congress and others, Xi, 58, said little new — and did little to narrow the differences that exist between the U.S. and China on issues such as human rights.

But in Iowa, Xi had the opportunity to show a more personal side away from the tough questions on policy, trade and international relations. Those who attended the 45-minute reunion in the two-story Victorian home said Xi enthusiastically introduced Chinese government leaders travelling with him, shook everyone’s hand and even made a couple light remarks.

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