BEIJING Dec 8 U.S. President-elect Donald
Trump's pick of Iowa Governor Terry Branstad as ambassador to
China sends a positive sign for ties, Chinese state media said,
but the envoy will have to live up to earlier statements
rejecting confrontation with Beijing.
The appointment of Branstad, seen in China as a longstanding
friend who first forged ties with President Xi Jinping 30 years
ago during an agricultural research trip to Iowa, may help ease
trade tension between the world's two largest economies,
diplomats and trade experts have said.
But the move comes even as Trump has directed fiery rhetoric
at China, and surrounded himself with advisers and cabinet
members who advocate a tough line on Beijing.
Branstad had rejected China-bashing campaign rhetoric in an
interview during Xi's 2015 state visit to the United States,
China's official Xinhua news agency said.
Xinhua cited the governor as saying he was "hopeful" the
next president would "lead to additional cooperation, additional
trade and not confrontation" with China.
"Now it is his turn to walk his talk together with Trump,"
the news agency said in a commentary on Thursday.
"His expertise on China and friendship with Chinese and U.S.
leaders are expected to facilitate him in lubricating the
development of the most important bilateral relationship in the
world," Xinhua said.
Branstad's nomination, if confirmed, "will be a positive
move made by Trump toward a healthy and stable relationship
between Beijing and Washington," it added.
China's Foreign Ministry has called Branstad an "old friend
of the Chinese people", and welcomed his selection.
Trump, who defeated Hillary Clinton in last month's
election, has said that when he takes office he intends to
declare China a currency manipulator, meaning it keeps the yuan
artificially low to make its exports cheap, and has threatened
punitive tariffs on Chinese goods coming into the United States.
Added to that, his unusual decision to accept a call from
Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen this month provoked a diplomatic
protest from Beijing, which sees Taiwan as a renegade province.
Trump's transition team played down the exchange as a
courtesy call, but the White House had to reassure China that
its decades-old "one-China" policy was intact.
Branstad's nomination, which will be formally made once
Trump is sworn in on Jan. 20, was well received in the United
States, even among some Democrats.
(Reporting by Michael Martina)