Q: What political transitions are under way in China?
A: China's new leader Xi Jinping -- who visited Iowa earlier this year -- is the most powerful Chinese leader in recent years as he newly holds the post of General Secretary of the Party, Chief of the Military, and he will take over as President of China in March, when President Hu Jintao formally relinquishes his post. The United States has a big interest in how new leaders in China determine the appropriate role for the state in China's economy, shape China's foreign policy and give China's citizens a meaningful role in the development of their political system.
Q: How does new leadership in China affect the United States?
A: Economically, the United States and China are heavily interdependent. China is the United States' second largest trading partner and largest supplier of imports. China benefits greatly from America's open system of international trade. With those benefits comes the responsibility to adhere to norms expected of a major economy, including with exchange rates. Our government needs to take action against China's manipulation of the value of its currency. China also is the largest foreign holder of U.S. debt. Both the United States and China play major roles in global efforts to address the European debt crisis, rein in the nuclear ambitions of North Korea and Iran, and manage instability in the Middle East. In addition, China's military modernization has become a factor in U.S. strategic planning.
Q: What about Iowa?
A: China was the biggest purchaser of U.S. agricultural products in 2011, including commodities grown in Iowa such as corn, soybeans and pork. Iowa leads the United States in soybean production, with 15 percent of the total from Iowa farmers. One quarter of all soybeans grown in the United States are exported to China. Iowa also leads the United States in pork production, and there are continually increasing opportunities for pork exports to China. Additional opportunities for increasing exports from Iowa are found in machinery manufactured in Iowa.