- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 7, 2016

The carrot-and-stick approach seems to be a favorite of President-Elect Donald Trump.

Take China, for example.

Last week, the press thought Mr. Trump was trying to provoke China into World War III by taking a congratulatory call from the Taiwanese president — breaking with decade’s long precedent. Many saw it as a violation of the U.S.-Chinese “One-China” policy, where China was surely to retaliate.

Their response was muted.

Then came Mr. Trump’s carrot.

This week, the president-elect has announced Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad to be the Chinese ambassador.

The pick delighted Beijing.

“We welcome [Branstad] to play a greater role in advancing the development of China-U.S. relations,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang told a daily press briefing when asked about the potential of Mr. Branstad becoming ambassador.

China said on Wednesday that Mr. Branstad was an “old friend” to the country — and indeed, his relationship with President Xi Jinping goes back decades.

The New York Times said Mr. Xi and Mr. Branstad met in 1985 when “Mr. Branstad was serving as his first term as governor, and Mr. Xi was a 31-year-old rural official in Hebei Province, studying modern American agriculture, including hog and corn farming in Iowa.”

Mr. Branstad has visited China several times, promoting his state’s farm goods.

USA Today reported in a 2013 article that Mr. Branstad and Mr. Xi “renewed their relationship in September 2011, when Branstad visited China; again in February, 2012, when Xi returned to Iowa; and yet again just two months ago when Branstad led another trade mission to China with Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker.”

Mr. Trump’s pick of Mr. Branstad is smart and strategic — he and his team obviously gave it considerable thought. Mr. Branstad’s relationship with Mr. Xi will be critical in helping negotiate more favorable trade deals with China, as well as getting the red state to take a more formidable position against North Korea and back down in the South China Sea.

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