Heartland Mainland: The Iowa China PodcastWith Holly He and Matt Sheehan
Iowa soybean farmer Rick Kimberley turned into an overnight celebrity in China after Xi Jinping visited his farm in 2012. But for the last two years, Rick found himself caught in the cross-fire of the US-China trade war, with Chinese tariffs on soybeans and corn taking a big bite out of his farm’s income.
In mid-January, President Trump and China signed a Phase One trade deal intended to stabilize the relationship. But is a truce in the trade war too little too late for soybean farmers like Rick Kimberley? And what happens when you force American farmers to choose sides between their biggest foreign customer and their own government?
In the second episode of Heartland Mainland, we dive into the tangled political ties linking Iowa and China. Those ties stretch from grassroots citizen diplomacy, to the hustle and bustle of the Iowa Caucuses, and all the way up to a trade war between the world’s two superpowers.
So how did Iowa go from the great hope of US-China relations to collateral damage in a trade war? Do personal ties count for anything in an era of rough-and-tumble geopolitics? And how are US-China relations affecting the race to become the next president of the United States?
In the first episode of Heartland Mainland, we dive into the impact Chinese students have had at Iowa’s largest universities — and how these tangled ties reverberate all the way up to the White House. During the 2008 financial crisis, large public universities around the country began turning to Chinese students’ tuition dollars for revenue. That turned hundreds of thousands of Chinese and American 18-year-olds into roommates.