With former Gov. Terry Branstad as the U.S. ambassador to China, some Iowans see new opportunities for the state in that country.
“At the moment, as the former governor has taken up his position as the ambassador to Beijing, China’s on a lot of people’s minds,” says Jeffrey Kappen, a Drake University professor of international business. “And I and others would argue that we have a window of time where Iowa is on people’s minds in China and we should do everything we can do take advantage of the opportunity.”
On Tuesday, Drake will host a China Town Hall, one of more than 80 sites throughout the country that will share publicly an address from former National Security Advisor Susan Rice, who also served as the United States ambassador to the United Nations. After her webcast presentation, Rice will take questions via Twitter and then each local event will offer an additional presentation.
Kappen says Drake invited Ira Kasoff, a historian, former foreign service officer and senior counselor with APCO Worldwide, because they wanted someone with a wide range of experiences with China. Kasoff will deliver a talk called “Are We on the Verge of the Chinese Century?” A conversation with questions from the audience will follow.
“I’m hoping that people will bring a variety of questions, getting beyond the idea of China as this one monolithic block that we are dealing with,” he says. “It is also a complex place with lots of dynamics.”
Drake sends students to study in China and has students on campus from there, Kappen says. In addition, he says many Iowa industries including insurance and finance and agriculture have potential to strengthen the state’s ties to China.
The National Committee on United States China Relations sponsors the China Town Hall events.