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Pool report from Vice President Xi’s tea reception in Muscatine

(MUSCATINE) – The following message is a Pool report from Xi Jinping’s visit to Muscatine, Iowa written by Owen Fletcher of The Wall Street Journal.

People in the room at Sarah Lande’s Victorian house in Muscatine to receive Xi Jinping include:
Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad
Iowa First Lady Chris Branstad
Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds
Ms. Reynolds’ husband, Kevin Reynolds
Muscatine Mayor DeWayne Hopkins
Sarah Lande and her husband Roger Lande
Joni Axel
Tom Hoopes
Eleanor and Tom Dvorchak
Additional “old friends” from Xi’s 1985 visit

Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi, chinese agriculture minister Han Changfu, vice finance minister Zhu Guangyao and other Chinese officials accompanied Mr. Xi to the meeting.

Xi arrived in a black car as part of a motorcade escorted by local police cars. The receiving local people stood on Sarah’s patio to welcome Xi, with Gov Branstad at the front of the line.

The room where Xi was received has dark blue walls with white trim, a large fire burning and Chinese calligraphy hung in two frames on the wall. Mr Xi sat on a couch between Sarah and Roger Lande, smiling with his hands on his knees. He spoke in a deep, confident voice.

Sarah Lande, while shaking hands with Xi on the patio before he entered the house: “I like your smile.”

After Xi and the others entered the house and sat down in the living room, Sarah Lande remained standing and speaking to Xi.

Some of Sarah Lande’s remarks: “We wish you a successful presidency,” Ms. Lande said. She added that she hopes China under Mr. Xi further strengthens relations with the U.S. “I wish both the United States and China would just have a surge in the amount of visas that they issue, so we can have more international exchange and more trade, as we’re having here between Iowa and China.”

When she finished speaking, Mr. Xi stood in front of the fireplace and gave his own remarks.

Xi: “It’s my second visit to Muscatine after a hiatus of 27 years from my last visit, and all the memories of my being here are now coming back. Coming here is really like coming back to home. You can’t even imagine what a deep impression I had from my visit 27 years ago to Muscatine, because you were the first group of Americans that I came into contact with. My impression of the country came from you. For me, you are America. We came just a few years after the normalization of relations between China and the U.S. and just two years after Hebei Province and Iowa became sister states. It was also my first visit to the U.S. So at that time, everything was very new and fresh.” … “Ms. Lande, I remember at the time you worked for the Iowa Sister Cities Friendship Committee and you held a dinner for us, and you took us around the town and you asked us whether we would like to drive ourselves. I still remember you took us on a tour of the Mississippi River.”

Xi continues, speaking to the Dvorchaks: “I remember I stayed in your son’s bedroom and that you had a lovely daughter. She was very curious and asked us many questions, such as whether we had seen American movies. When I said I had seen movies like… [inaudible]… and The Godfather, she was very surprised.”Xi recalled that the Dvorchaks gave him popcorn as a parting gift when he left Muscatine, prompting laughter from the Americans in the room.

Xi continued to reminisce with the Dvorchaks. He then proceeded to introduce the members of his delegation.

Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad then gave some remarks. “We are honored and very humbled that you have returned to Muscatine, the very first place that you visited in America,” he said to Xi.

The other “old friends” continued to share memories of Xi’s last visit to Muscatine. Among those memories, Tom Dvorchak asked Mr. Xi if he remembered what gift he had brought the Dvorchaks when he stayed with them in 1985. Mr. Xi recalled that it was a bottle of a Chinese liquor called baijiu. Tom Dvorchak told Xi’s interpreter, “Tell him that it was the strongest liquor I ever had,” prompting laughter.

Sarah Lande also later said she remembered Xi enjoying seeing puppies he saw in a backyard during his last trip to Muscatine. Xi replied, “We love puppies. [Audience laughter.] We have two puppies as pets now.”

After the reminiscing ended, Xi and many of the Iowans had a group photo on the Landes’ stairway and Mr. Xi exited to get in his bulky black car and leave.

I didn’t see Xi eat or drink anything, although there was originally supposed to be tea/other things served.

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