Chinese Ambassador: Muscatine is a “holy place of friendship” for the two countries | Muscat
MUSCATINE – The Chinese ambassador went to Muscatine on Wednesday to “pay tribute” to a friendship forged 37 years ago.
Qin Gang, the 11th Ambassador of the People’s Republic of China, met with American friends of President Xi Jinping at the Merrill Hotel and Conference Center.
In 1985, Xi stayed at the home of Sarah and Roger Lande for two weeks on a cultural exchange while a low-level party official. As China’s vice president, he returned to visit the couple in 2012. Xi also wrote a book about his visit to Muscatine called “Old Friends.”
In a press conference after the private meeting, Qin called Muscatine a “holy place of friendship” between China and the United States.
By his side, Sarah Lande – Roger died earlier this year – Luca Barone and Joan Axel beamed, knowing that the legacy of friendship between China and Muscatine started in 1985 would continue.
“It was started by President Xi and his old friends 37 years ago when he was a young county official,” Qin said of China’s relationship with Muscatine. “He started this friendship. We are happy to see that the friendship he has forged has taken root and flourished through joint efforts. It is a trip to pay homage to this friendship.
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The trip comes at a time when ties remain strained between the world’s two largest economies.
Senior US officials have urged China to pressure Russia to end its war in Ukraine. And the White House has launched a diplomatic boycott of the Beijing 2022 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games for human rights violations, including forced labor, against Uyghurs and other Turkish Muslims in Xinjiang, which has sparked worldwide condemnation.
Friction over Chinese subsidies in targeted industries, state-owned enterprises and forced technology transfers – which Washington says create unequal conditions of competition for American companies operating at home and abroad – have led to restrictions trade and warnings of economic and financial consequences for China and other countries. countries that have maintained ties with Russia.
China is one of the largest export markets for American goods and services.
“Person to Person”
Qin visited the China-US Friendship Center established from the residence where Xi stayed during his visit to the United States.
The torch of friendship was passed on to a new generation later in the meeting. Wan Xiang Corporation announced a donation of $500,000 over two years to continue exchange programs between the United States and China. Muscatine High School and Muscatine Community College will receive some of the money.
Wan Xiang Chairman Pin Ni said the swap program started in 2011 and the company learned about it when the Chinese president visited its headquarters in Chicago, Illinois and told asked if he could support the program. The company began supporting exchange programs in Chicago. During Chinese New Year in 2017, Iowa Governor Terry Branstad was named ambassador to China and the company decided to fund a program at Muscatine.
“The city is embracing the program, which has been very encouraging to us,” he said. “If the program is well received by the community, we should try to help.”
Qin said citizen diplomacy is important for relations between the two nations.
“Diplomacy, fundamentally, is about people between people,” he told the Muscatine Journal. “We are here as Chinese diplomats to promote mutual understanding and friendship between our two peoples. I know we are going through a difficult period in our relations, but the more difficult it is, the more it is necessary to increase the exchanges.
Angelica Ibanez and Jennifer Zamora watched with excitement as the next stage of Muscatine’s friendship with China began. The two were roommates in 2018 when they visited China for four weeks as students at Muscatine Community College. They joked if the exchange program needed chaperones, they would volunteer.
“Being Latino made learning about Chinese history and culture easier to love,” Ibanez said. She talked about learning the ordinary Chinese way of life.
Zamora agreed, saying she was glad more students could experience the things they saw in China and hoped they would enjoy it as much.
Lande said in a previous interview that she would continue to do everything she could to strengthen the relationship between the United States and China. On Wednesday, she expressed strong hope for the future.
“There’s such a solid foundation and when people have been together, we totally love each other,” Lande said. “We’re the two biggest countries in the world, but we’re like a family of friends, so I think the foundation on top of getting together with the ambassador, I think everyone’s saying ‘let’s go now’ Hopefully our governments will follow, or not interfere, or we’ll just show them what wonderful things people can do.