China’s ministers of agriculture and commerce will be in Iowa this week, part of the delegation visiting the state with Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping.

Almost 170 Chinese officials will be part of the delegation and Iowa Governor Terry Branstad says there are all sorts of opportunities for Iowa business leaders to make some key connections.

“These are key people in the Chinese government and then there’s also going to be business people…and I think there’s discussion with the Soybean Association of signing intents to purchase additional soybeans and things like that,” Branstad says. “…When you have a large delegation like this, I think there’s going to be a lot of opportunities.”

Branstad says with China’s booming economy and growing middle class, there are all sorts of ways to build relationships that will lead to Chinese investment here and Iowa exports to China. About 650 guests will gather in the statehouse Wednesday night for a banquet to welcome the Chinese to Iowa. The governor revealed the menu this morning during his weekly news conference.

AUDIO of news conference.

“The main course will consist of both beef and pork. A corn/etamamae succotash will take the place of traditional salad, so we’re going to use both corn and soybeans here,” Branstad said. “Iowa wines and beers will be also featured at the dinner.”

Business leaders from the around the state, along with Iowa’s 150 state legislators and the members of the Iowa Supreme Court and Court of Appeals will be dining with the Chinese delegation.

“There will be a brief program in which Vice President Xi and I will — after we enter the rotunda, we will provide a brief welcome toast to each other and to all the guests,” Branstad told reporters.”

Dozens of interpreters will be present at all times, to ease the communications gap.

“My Chinese is not that great,” Branstad said. “I would say I don’t think the vice president is not all that fluent in English either.”

Branstad visited China on a trade mission in September and had a one-on-one meeting with Xi. China’s vice president showed Branstad the itinerary from his 1985 trip to Iowa, and Branstad invited Xi to make a return visit.

Xi is arriving in the U.S. today for meetings in Washington. He’ll get to eastern Iowa for “tea time” Wednesday for people he met in the Muscatine area nearly 27 years ago, then he’ll head to Des Moines for the Wednesday evening banquet. The new state economic development authority will use private funds to pay for the festivities. On Thursday morning Xi will participate in an agricultural “symposium” in Des Moines. His last Iowa stop will be a visit to a farm near Maxwell before he flies to Los Angelos.