A Homecoming In Iowa For China's Number Two

Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping at the White House in Washington, Tuesday. (AP)
Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping at the White House in Washington, Tuesday. (AP)

China's vice president arrived in Washington Tuesday and later this week, he will head to Iowa and Los Angeles.

Xi Jinping may be the number two man in China right now, but when party chief Hu Jintao retires in the fall, Mr. Xi is considered the man likely to take over that job. And in 2013, he's likely to become president.

So this visit will be closely watched.

The conversation in Washington could get heated. China has been criticized for its currency and trade policies and for human rights abuses.

Outside the beltway, things will be friendlier.

Mr. Xi will have a homecoming of sorts in Iowa. Back in 1985 he stayed with an Iowan family as part of a Chinese delegation to study corn technology. He'll be reconnecting with many of the people he met back then, including 73-year-old Sarah Land of Muscatine, Iowa. She told Bloomberg News she's honored to see him again and wants to do our country well during this week's visit.

One of the people not accompanying Mr. Xi is his wife — who just might have more star power than he does back home.

Peng Liyuan is hugely popular in China as a folk singer. She's been a regular on the widely watched televised pageants that run during the Chinese New Year celebrations in China.

But the Wall Street Journal reports she is toning down her public persona so that she doesn't outshine her husband.

By the way, Ms. Peng told a Chinese newspaper reporter back in 2007 that she was unimpressed when she first met Mr. Xi in 1986 — she thought he looked old and rustic. That article, the Journal points out, has been mostly deleted from the Internet.

This program aired on February 14, 2012. The audio for this program is not available.


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