This week, Heartland Mainland dives 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.
Back in 1985, an unknown Chinese county official named Xi Jinping made his first trip to the United States, spending two weeks traveling around Iowa. 27 yeas later, Xi Jinping returned to Iowa, this time as the Vice President and heir apparent of the People’s Republic of China. Those two trips thrust a small Iowa city into the global spotlight, paved the way for Iowa’s governor Terry Branstad to become ambassador to China, and raised hopes for a better era in US-China diplomacy.
But today the US-China relationship is more contentious than it’s been in decades, and Iowa has found itself caught in the crossfire of a new trade war. And now those tensions are filtering into the most important contest to select 2020 presidential candidates: the Iowa Caucuses.
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? We’ll be exploring all that and a whole lot more, in this episode of Heartland Mainland.
In this episode, you’ll hear from the Iowan who welcomed Xi Jinping in 1985, people in Muscatine, Iowa transformed by that trip, and presidential candidates Pete Buttigieg and Andrew Yang.