Think Progress’s justice editor Ian Millhiser deleted a tweet in which he dissed President-elect Donald Trump’s selection of Iowa Governor Terry Branstad as ambassador to China.
Millhiser pointed to Iowa as a “small, rural, landlocked state full of white people” as criticism of Branstad’s supposed lack of qualifications for the ambassadorship:
Millhiser was subsequently mocked on Twitter with inconvenient information.
As it turns out, Branstad has a decades-long “friendship” with Chinese President Xi Jinping through which years were spent in cultivating trade tied between Iowa and China.
From the Des Moines Register:
"The offer, announced during a fundraiser Wednesday morning, highlights Branstad’s decades-long “friendship” with Chinese President Xi Jinping and years-long efforts to build strong economic and trade ties between the state of Iowa and the world’s most populous nation.
Branstad has history with China. The governor first met Xi in 1985, when he was a first-term governor and Xi was a Communist Party official from China’s Hebei Province visiting Iowa to learn about agricultural techniques. The pair rekindled their friendship in 2011, when Branstad met with Xi during a trade mission to China and invited him back to the state.
Xi, then the vice president of China, accepted Branstad’s offer in 2012, attending a state dinner at the Iowa Capitol, visiting 'old friends' from his initial visit in Muscatine and touring a massive farming operation in Maxwell. He became the president of China less than a year later.
Branstad has led four trade missions to China since returning to office in 2011, including a trip to Beijing and Hebei just last month. Most of the trips were aimed at boosting Iowa’s agricultural exports to China, a world-leading consumer of soy and pork.
The frequent visits and relationship with Xi mean the Chinese know and like Branstad, said Tim Albrecht, a former aide to the governor.
'He’s a known commodity (in China), more so probably than any other political leader save for Obama,” Albrecht said. “There’s not just a respect there, there’s a kinship that’s hard to describe.'"
The current ambassador to China is Max Baucus, formerly a senator from Montana - arguably another small, rural, landlocked state full of white people.”
To Millhiser's credit, he expressed partial regret for her unfounded criticism:
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