America's longest-serving governor is reportedly leaving his post to become U.S. ambassador to China. Multiple sources have reported that President-elect Donald Trump has offered Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad (R) the position, and that Branstad has accepted.
Already, Trump has ruffled feathers in China by speaking over the phone last week to the president of Taiwan. Beijing considers Taiwan to be a province of the mainland, and the U.S. has long avoided officially recognizing Taiwan as independent of China. The president-elect was also critical of China throughout the presidential election, and he continued his critique Sunday on Twitter, prompting several Chinese state media outlets to publish disapproving editorials.
Branstad's appointment, however, may "help to ease trade tensions between" the U.S. and China, Reuters reported. Branstad has called Chinese President Xi Jinping a "long-time friend," and Xi has paid a visit to Iowa. When rumors of Branstad's appointment surfaced Wednesday, China's Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang called Branstad an "old friend" of the country and said China would "welcome him to play a greater role in advancing the development of China-U.S. relations," Bloomberg reported.
Branstad spokesman Ben Hammes has not confirmed reports, which he called "premature." If Branstad were to leave his post as governor after six terms, Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds would likely assume the role, becoming Iowa's first female governor.