Chinese President Xi Jinping is set to reunite with a group of Iowans, known as his “old friends,” during a dinner in California, marking a remarkable connection that dates back 38 years. The Midwesterners first welcomed Xi, then an unknown party official, for a hog roast and farm tours in 1985, illustrating how capitalism thrives in agriculture.
The enduring friendship contrasts with the recent strains and suspicions characterizing US-China relations. The Iowans, who have maintained ties with Xi over the years, have been invited to a reception and dinner on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in San Francisco, where Xi and President Joe Biden plan to meet.
Despite the passage of time, the Iowans express eagerness to meet Xi, emphasizing their status as “regular, everyday people.” The invitations came through the National Committee on US-China Relations and the US-China Business Council, showcasing the diplomatic efforts to ease tensions between the two economic giants.
The bond between Xi and the Iowans, forged during Xi’s first visit to the US as the leader of a food processing delegation, has endured decades. The Iowans played a role in Xi’s introduction to American culture, including Star Trek-themed bedrooms and discussions about American movies.
The upcoming reunion symbolizes a unique and unexpected connection between individuals and nations, offering a glimpse into the complex dynamics of international relations. As the Iowans and Xi rekindle their ties, the event also underscores the potential for personal relationships to influence diplomatic discourse between nations.