Last week, Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping visited the United States, stopping off in Iowa to discuss soybeans, farming, and the future of Sino-American trade relations.
Chinese demand for American agricultural goods has been increasing for several years. In 2011, China emerged as the largest consumer of American soybeans and is in line to become the top consumer of several other American crops. Last year, Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack travelled to China to discuss trade relations, a sign of the major influence that China has in American agricultural policy.
Xi’s visit last week was a carefully choreographed effort to maintain Sino-American relations and to assure the Chinese people of his fitness to lead. As Vice President, Xi is being groomed to succeed current Chinese leader Hu Jintao.
While in Washington, D.C., Xi and Chinese officials signed trade agreements committing their country to buying 8 million tons of American soybeans valued at over $4 billion. They also discussed additional deals that could lead to the purchase of 12 million more tons.
In between signing trade deals, Xi and Chinese dignitaries visited a 4,000-acre Iowa farm, where he examined farm machinery, quizzed farm owner Rick Kimberly about soybean production, and visited the state capital in Des Moines. Xi’s Iowa trip was less about policy and more about cultivating a folksy, friendly image that contrasts with current president Hu Jintao’s stiff persona.
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Written by: Justin Ellison / Farm Plus Staff Writer