A visit by Pres­i­dent Xi helped lay down the roots for a se­ries of flow­er­ing ex­changes

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - FASHION -

Upon en­try into the World Food Prize Foun­da­tion build­ing, the first thing that catches your eyes are two Chi­nese char­ac­ters pro­nounced as dadou, mean­ing soy­bean, carved on one of the four pil­lars at the hall. This is a cour­tesy to China as the home of soy­beans.

In fact, it’s easy to find Chi­nese ele­ments inside the build­ing, which is lo­cated in down­town De Moines, cap­i­tal city of the state of Iowa in the US Mid­west.

Pic­tures of He Kang, former Chi­nese agri­cul­tural min­is­ter, and Yuan Long­ping, a Chi­nese agron­o­mist known for his hy­brid rice, are on the wall of glory among a group of those win­ning the World Food Prize.

Dayu, a Chi­nese wa­ter con­trol hero in an­cient times, has his name en­graved high on the wall; a bronze plaque show­ing Chi­nese Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping (then vice pres­i­dent) ad­dress­ing the US-China Agri­cul­tural Sym­po­sium in the build­ing on Feb 16, 2012 hangs in the con­fer­ence hall, and nearby hangs a replica of a fa­mous Chi­nese paint­ing show­ing how Chi­nese farmers cul­ti­vate in an­cient times.

Ken­neth Quinn, pres­i­dent of the World Food Prize Foun­da­tion, re­mem­bered ev­ery de­tail of Xi’s visit to his or­ga­ni­za­tion in 2012.

“This is a his­toric event. That con­nects China and the US, con­nects Pres­i­dent Xi and Iowa. It was a sig­nif­i­cant mo­ment for our or­ga­ni­za­tion, the World Food Prize,” he said.

“We’re proud of Pres­i­dent Xi,” Quinn told Xin­hua, “We think of him as some­body with an Iowa con­nec­tion, a fam­ily mem­ber.”

Point­ing to a pic­ture of be­ing in the trac­tor with Xi dis­played in his house, Rick Kim­ber­ley of Kim­ber­ley Farms Inc. talked about the trac­tor pic­ture story when host­ing Xi at his farm in 2012.

“I asked Pres­i­dent Xi if he wanted to get in the trac­tor and he was very anx­ious to get in,” he said.

“He was sit­ting here in the main seat, I was sit­ting on the smaller seat here right be­side him ... we had a very good talk and we talked about tech­nol­ogy, about the mon­i­tors we have here in the cab.”

“This is the home fa­mous pic­ture that has been in all the pa­pers here in the United States, and I be­lieve it was in many of the dif­fer­ent news­pa­pers in China,” said Rick, the fifth gen­er­a­tion of Kim­ber­ley Farms.

There is a US cliche of “Iowa Nice”, re­fer­ring to open, re­spon­sive, big hearts, wel­com­ing at­ti­tudes, hospi­tal­ity, gen­eros­ity, and soften-spo­ken de­meanor typ­i­cal of the Mid­west­ern­ers.

In 1985, Xi, then party sec­re­tary of Zhengding county in China’s north­ern prov­ince of He­bei, led a five-per­son del­e­ga­tion to Mus­ca­tine in the state of Iowa. dadou,

This “Iowa Nice” has im­pressed Xi so deeply that when he re­vis­ited Mus­ca­tine and met his old friends in the house of Sarah Lande in 2012, he said: “You were the first peo­ple I met in Amer­ica. To me, you are Amer­ica.”

Iowa Soy­bean As­so­ci­a­tion Chief Ex­ec­u­tive Of­fi­cer Kirk Leeds shared sim­i­lar mem­o­ries with Xin­hua.

“Be­ing in the Mid­west and as an agri­cul­ture state, we have ‘Iowa nice’,” Kirk said, “We would say Xi ex­pe­ri­enced ‘Iowa nice’ back in 1985, and ex­pe­ri­enced again when he came back. We are proud of the re­la­tion­ship, and we have some re­spon­si­bil­ity to US-China re­la­tion­ship be­cause of the spe­cial re­la­tion­ship with Pres­i­dent Xi.”

With this “Iowa Nice” feel­ing from both sides, ex­changes be­tween China and Iowa have in­creased dra­mat­i­cally in re­cent years.

Iowa and He­bei prov­ince have be­come sis­ter state-prov­ince; Mus­ca­tine has knot­ted sis­ter-city re­la­tion- ship with Zhengding; many Chi­nese del­e­ga­tions have come to Iowa to visit Kim­ber­ley Farms; agri­cul­tural ed­u­ca­tion ex­changes be­tween Iowa and China has been en­hanced; Chi­nese tourists to Iowa has in­creased.

Kim­ber­ley Farms has so far built two demon­stra­tion farms in China, one in He­bei prov­ince and the other in north­east China’s Jilin prov­ince, and has es­tab­lished co­op­er­a­tion re­la­tion­ship with many farms in China.

Trade be­tween China and Iowa, and the US Mid­west has sky­rock­eted. Some 56 per­cent of US soy­bean ex­ports go to China, and Iowa is the sec­ond largest soy­bean pro­ducer in the US Iowa also sup­plies feed and pork to China.

China’s trade with the nine states in US Mid­west reached 92.6 bil­lion U.S. dol­lars in 2015. Chi­nese en­ter­prises have in­vested a to­tal of $13 bil­lion in US Mid­west, cre­at­ing nearly 30,000 jobs, ac­cord­ing to sta- tis­tics pro­vided by Chi­nese Con­sulate Gen­eral in Chicago.

“So we will just build on those re­la­tion­ships and con­tinue with that,” said Kirk.

“The visit of Pres­i­dent Xi to our home meant a great deal to us and we have a great love and un­der­stand­ing for the peo­ple of China now,” Rick told Xin­hua.

“It’s brought us to un­der­stand China and the peo­ple of China much bet­ter,” he said, “We might be in dif­fer­ent coun­tries but we’re all alike. We’re all hu­man be­ings.”

Ken­neth Quinn, pres­i­dent of the World Food Prize Foun­da­tion

PHOTOS BY WANG PING / XIN­HUA

Two char­ac­ters pro­nounced as mean­ing soy­bean are carved on one of the four pil­lars at the hall of the World Food Prize Foun­da­tion build­ing.

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