China’s vice president hosted dinner in Beijing this weekend for a delegation of Iowans, including Governor Branstad. 

The event was the main reason for Governor Branstad’s fifth trip to China. Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping organized a reunion for Branstad and the delegation of Iowans who hosted Xi and four of his fellow countrymen in Iowa 27 years ago.

“We’ve all had a wonderful experience. They’ve gone all out,” according to the governor.

Branstad called into the Radio Iowa newsroom this morning to discuss the trip. Branstad and the other Iowans were wrapping up a day in the area of China where Xi was working in 1985 as a local party leader.

“Bands met us. We had people lining the streets,” Branstad said. “It was an unbelievable welcome that we received in this small, agricultural village.”

Branstad and the rest of the Iowa delegation met with party leaders in the province as well as the provincial governor.

“Visited a farm family in a small village. We were also in the county where Xi Jinping started his political career here 30 years ago and we also got a chance to look at the crops,” Branstad told Radio Iowa. “They’re about a week away from starting the wheat harvest.”

China’s Hebei province has been Iowa’s sister-state for nearly three decades and that’s how Xi got invited to visit Iowa. The Iowa delegation has visited with the four people who came with Xi on that trip.

“Really, this has been a trip of a lifetime,” Branstad said. “It’s been a wonderful experience for myself and many of the old friends that met with Vice President Xi Jinping when he came to Iowa in 1985.”

Branstad visited China on a trade mission last 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 visit Iowa again — leading to Xi’s trip to Iowa this past February. Branstad hosted a dinner in China for a group of Chinese who bought $4.3 billion of soybeans.

“Not only is China now buying more soybeans than all the rest of the countries in the world, they’re buying a significant amount of corn as well and pork,” Branstad said. “But there’s also the possibility of them actually purchases some processing plants in Iowa or building their own processing plant.”

Branstad talked about other aspects of his trip to China last Friday during a telephone interview with Radio Iowa.

China’s vice president talked about the prospects for that kind of investment when he was in Iowa in February. Xi is likely to become China’s president later this year.