Iowa Gov. Branstad’s performance at hearing called outstanding


Max Goldberg/Iowa State Daily

Gov. Terry Branstad gives a two thumbs up at the second annual Roast and Ride at the Iowa State Fairgrounds. Branstad spoke very fondly of senator Joni Ernst, saying that “[Ernst] is taking DC by storm, and making them squeal.” 

Chris Anderson

Gov. Terry Branstad drew bipartisan praise on his performance during a hearing Tuesday regarding his confirmation to U.S Ambassador for China.

Branstad has been the expected future ambassador to China since being announced as President Trump’s nominee for the position. The nomination of Branstad to the ambassador position has drawn praise to the Trump administration due to Branstad’s experience working with China and his friendship with Chinese President Xi Jinping.

During the hearing, which took place Tuesday morning in Washington D.C. in front of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, issues relating to North Korea took center stage.

Branstad suggested he’d like to see keeping the status quo in the area but taking efforts to reduce nuclear aggression by North Korea.

“There is no way China is going to want to see a regime change that has a democratic united Korea under South Korean rule on their border,” Branstad said.

He mentioned the 20 million people that live in or around Seoul, which is situated closely to the North Korean border.

“If we’re try to attack North Korea, we certainly wouldn’t want to put those people’s lives in jeopardy,” Branstad said.

Branstad feels China is the one country who has the potential to influence the North Korean regime more than anyone else and would like to use his position as ambassador to leverage change in the region.

“The change that needs to take place doesn’t need to be a threat to the system, but needs to stop this nuclear proliferation,” Branstadi said.

Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) at one point asked Branstad to describe the state of the current U.S. Relationship with China. Branstad responded by calling the relationship mixed.

Branstad said he would like to see further barriers broken down between the U.S. and China and that as a growing world power China has an obligation to “play by the rules” and in some ways, step up as a world leader.

Branstad also shared plans he has of achieving a “full Grassley” during his time as Ambassador to China. The term “full Grassley” comes from the 99-county tour Iowa Sen. Charles Grassley has done every year since being elected to the Senate.

If confirmed as Ambassador, Branstad would make it a goal of his to visit every one of China’s provinces.

“With a country as large and expansive as China, I know there is much life and activity outside of Beijing,” Branstad said.

The six-term Iowa Governor laid out other issues he hopes to champion if confirmed as Ambassador. Among these are upholding human rights for all, a free and open market, a rules based order in the oceans surrounding China and the importance of free press.

Branstad has received praise from both parties for his performance during the hearing. Committee chairman Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN) called his performance outstanding.

The top-ranking Democrat of the foreign relations committee, Sen. Ben Cardin of Maryland, also had words of praise for Branstad.

“You’ve done very well in giving us the confidence of your knowledge of the areas and the way that you go about trying to reach strategic decisions as to how to advance U.S. interests,” Cardin said. 

Branstad is expected to be confirmed later this week as the Senate meets to vote on his confirmation.