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Spotlight: Trump chooses "old friend of Chinese people" as ambassador in Beijing

U.S. President-elect Donald Trump has nominated Iowa Governor Terry Branstad, who boasts a 30-year relationship with China, to be the next U.S. ambassador in Beijing, a spokesman for Trump said Wednesday.

"The governor has a lot of experience and grasp of trade issues, agriculture issues and the understanding of China," Jason Miller told reporters.

Branstad, an early supporter of Trump, met with the president-elect in New York on Tuesday. He has accepted the offer, according to media reports.

"He's someone who has very much impressed President-elect Trump not just during the meetings but also on the campaign trail," Miller said. "We couldn't be prouder of the selection."

"It's very clear that Governor Branstad is someone who'll represent our country well on the world stage," he added.

Branstad, 70, has long nurtured a close relationship with China, having visited China multiple times. He served as the governor of Iowa between 1983 and 1999, and again since 2011.

In 1985, Xi Jinping, then party secretary of Zhengding County in the Chinese province of Hebei, led an agricultural delegation to Iowa and stayed with a local family for two days.

Branstad, the Iowa governor at the time, met Xi for the first time and hosted Xi and his colleagues warmly.

During his visit to the United States in 2012, Xi, then Chinese vice president, went to Iowa for a reunion with the family that hosted his delegation 27 years ago. Branstad and Xi met again on the occasion.

During Xi's state visit to the United States in September 2015, Branstad flew to Washington to take part in a welcoming banquet for the Chinese president.

Pundits believed Branstad's expertise on China and friendship with Chinese and U.S. leaders would facilitate him in lubricating the development of the most important bilateral relationship in the global political arena.

His longtime relationship with China could help smooth things out. His personal touch could go a long way in avoiding conflicts caused by miscommunication or misinterpretation.

It is widely believed that the nomination sent a positive signal to the development of the China-U.S. relations amid a mixture of messages from Trump over his attitude toward China.

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