- Associated Press - Tuesday, April 4, 2017

MUSCATINE, Iowa (AP) - A southeast Iowa city is strengthening its ties to China with the opening of a Sini-U.S. Friendship Center, marking the latest development since the Chinese president’s 1985 visit to the community.

Work to convert a former furniture store in downtown Muscatine into the center is expected to begin this month, the Muscatine Journal (https://bit.ly/2oVQvCP ) reported.

China Windows Group Inc. chairman Glad Cheng is developing the friendship center. He estimates it’ll cost $1 million to buy and renovate the building.

Cheng said he hopes the center will teach Americans more about Chinese culture and hopes that more Americans will become interested in traveling to China.

“I want to show you Chinese tea, Chinese acupuncture, Chinese food,” he said.



The center will also include an exhibit featuring key events in the relationship between China and the United States.

Daniel P. Stein, chairman of the Muscatine-China Initiatives Committee, said the center will build upon the “tremendous amount of momentum” in city development, including the construction of the more than $42 million Merrill Hotel and Conference Center across the street.

“This is one more pillar to make Muscatine the best it can be,” Stein said.

Muscatine’s connection with China began when Chinese President Xi Jinping visited the community in 1985 with a group to study agricultural methods in Iowa and later, in 2012, when he returned as vice president of China to meet with the Muscatine residents he calls his “old friends.”

Sarah Lande, who hosted the 2012 meeting in her home, encourages Muscatine residents to become involved in the relationship with China.

She said the center is “a great way to carry the friendship with President Xi forward.”

The center is scheduled to open in September.

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Information from: Muscatine Journal, https://www.muscatinejournal.com

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