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Ambassador Branstad: 3 Big Things in China

U.S. Ambassador to China and former Iowa Governor Terry Branstad was in Iowa Monday along with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Branstad briefly introduced Pompeo at a gathering of farmers and agribusiness leaders held at the World Food Prize in Des Moines, Iowa.

“The U.S.-China relationship is the most important bilateral relationship in the world. As President Trump has said, the United States seeks a constructive, results-oriented relationship with China, and, of course, the Secretary of State has a critical role to play in that relationship,” Branstad said to kick off the evening.

Before turning over the podium to Pompeo, Branstad added, “During the seceretary’s most recent visit to China, I was impressed with his ability to connect and motivate our embassy staff and effectively articulate American interests to the Chinese leadership.”

After Pompeo’s speech, Brandstad held a short press gathering and highlighted three big things he’s concerned with in China before moving on to answer other questions from the media.

“I am on the front line there in China. We have three big issues that we’re dealing with," the ambassador told the media.

1. North Korea

“One is the North Korean threat,” Branstad stated. “We’ve made progress in that – at least they are not testing more atomic bombs.”

Branstad noted he was in North Korea, just 50 miles away from the last test site three days after it happened.

2. Fentanyl

A second major concern stemming from China is fentanyl. The National Institute on Drug Abuse defines fentanyl as a powerful synthetic opioid that is similar to morphine but is 50 to 100 times more potent.

The drug is highly addictive and overdose is a significant risk.

Drug dealers in the U.S. have been known to source the products used to illegally make fentanyl from China.

“President Trump got a commitment from Xi Jinping for them to make all of these precursors a controlled substance. We’re really working hard to try to see that the Chinese follow through and indeed do that,” Branstad explained. “If we do that, we think it will dramatically reduce the amount of fentanyl that is coming to the United States and causing a lot of deaths.”

3. Trade with China

Finally, Branstad acknowledged the ongoing trade tensions with China.

“I think we’ve made significant progress here, just recently. We’re hopeful that can get resolved in the not-too-distant future.”

The ambassador told the crowd he knew trade was especially important to Iowans saying, “It’s an issue that should have been addressed a long time ago, especially these structural issues. They should have been addressed 20 years ago or 15 years ago, but we can’t let this continue.”

He noted that enforcement can be challenging adding, “If we get an agreement, we have to be able to enforce it.”

When asked by a reporter if rumors that a meeting between Trump and Xi may be scheduled before the end of the month to sign an agreement, Branstad said he could not speculate.

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