Xi Jinping Heads to Muscatine, Iowa

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Marco Werman: I'm Marco Werman. This is the World. Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping continued his meetings with politicians in Washington today then he took off for America's heartland, Muscatine, Iowa, specifically to reconnect with locals who hosted him back in 1985 when he studied hog raising. Earlier today we spoke with Chris Steinbach, editor at the Muscatine Journal and I told him it was kind of wild the Chinese Vice President learned how to raise pigs in the Iowa town.

Chris Steinbach: Well, that's what they say. He visited a number of places when he was here then. We have farms of course here and then he also visited some grain processing facilities here. I think that was one of the things that they were probably most interested in.

Werman: So what's going on in Muscatine today? What is going to really surprise Vice President Xi after nearly 20 years?

Steinbach: He's going directly to the home of Roger and Sarah Landee. They live in a historic older home on what's called West Hill in Muscatine. It's on the bluff overlooking the river. Spending an hour with the people who he met when he was here in 1985 so I don't know how much of the town itself he will actually see. I've had a number of readers and other people calling wanting to know if they would have an opportunity to see him or take pictures and I really don't think they're going to be able to.

Werman: Now the other dose of China that you're getting are the Chinese journalists who are covering Vice President Xi's visit. They visited your news room. Are they filing stories for their outlets back in China?

Steinbach: Yeah, there are a number of Chinese reporters here. There was a big press conference here at the public library yesterday and I know that a couple of my reporters got to meet and did a few things to help some of the Chinese journalists that were there. We had five of them in our newsroom last week which was a real nice exchange and visit. We republished the front page from 1986 that's gotten a lot of attention when Xi was here for the first time. We republished that in our paper today and one of these newspapers in China wants to be able to republish it as well which I think we're going to let them.

Werman: Some of these Chinese journalists who are there now, what kind of angles are they reporting? What questions have they asked you?

Steinbach: Initially they asked last week what sort of things we were going to do to cover this visit and then they asked our impression of U.S./China relations and if people here are angry or resentful about jobs that have maybe left this country and gone to China and those sorts of things. Those are hard questions for me to answer. I'm sure that some of that attitude does exist here. There are a number of companies here that do business in China. I have friends here who have been over there for two and three and four weeks at a time on business trips.

Werman: Chris, what interests you most about the return visit of Xi Jinping to Muscatine?

Steinbach: I'm a native Iowan so I'm pretty proud like I think many people here are of the fact that he's coming to Muscatine in the first place. It's kind of I think unusual and I think that's because of how he was treated when he was here the first time. I think that made an impression and a favorable one and so he is coming back to see people who were nice to him before they knew that he was going to become the eventual leader of the world's largest country.

Werman: Chris Steinbach, editor at the Muscatine Journal. Thank you very much.

Steinbach: Thank you.