Filed Under:

A Familiar Face Back In Iowa: China's Vice President

Play associated audio

When China's Vice President Xi Jinping heads to Iowa on Wednesday, he won't be a stranger.

In 1985, Xi visited the city of Muscatine as part of an agricultural trade mission. The delegation he was traveling with dined and slept in local homes and toured local businesses. He was also given a key to the city. And 27 years later, he'll be given another one.

Muscatine Mayor DeWayne Hopkins plans to present the key at a tea on Wednesday. The mayor tells All Things Considered host Robert Siegel that Xi will also be greeted by a group of Muscatine High School seniors who are studying Mandarin — a class that was inspired by the vice president's first visit.

"Twenty-seven years later, he remembers the manner in which he was treated and certainly requested a return visit to renew friendships with what's known as old friends at this point," Hopkins says.

The Only One With Two Keys

The vice president is one of the biggest names to ever appear in Muscatine, a city of 23,000 on the banks of the Mississippi River. He's only rivaled by former Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev, who visited in 1959.

"This equates somewhat to that," the mayor says, "but this visit has nothing to do with economics, it has nothing to do with politics, but it has everything to do with a sense of civility and saying 'Hi,' and shaking the hands of some old friends."

Hopkins says the vice president also has the special distinction of being the only person to receive two keys to the city.

"Presenting an individual a key to our city is a practice that was discontinued — I don't know exactly how long ago — but I had to search far and near into the depths of our city hall building to find a key," he says.

He describes it as solid brass and weighing about three-quarters of a pound. On the back, it's engraved, "Welcome back, Vice President Xi Jinping, 2012."

Copyright 2012 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

NPR

Hieronymus Bosch Died 500 Years Ago, But His Art Will Still Creep You Out

Known by some as "the Devil's painter," Bosch depicted imaginary animals and souls being violently tortured. At least one critic believes he's the father of modern art.
NPR

With A Zap, Scientists Create Low-Fat Chocolate

Scientists say they've figured out how to reduce the fat in milk chocolate by running it through an electric field. The result is healthier, but is it tastier?
NPR

The View From The Northeast Corridor: Deep Divisions Ahead Of 2016 Election

Despite a history of Democratic electoral solidarity, a trip through the Northeast finds Republicans hoping to make inroads in November and Democrats pushing for the voting power of immigrants.
NPR

President Obama Acknowledges 'Brexit' To Silicon Valley Crowd

President Obama delivered a speech Friday at Stanford University, and remarked on the Brexit vote in front of a crowd of young, tech-forward, pro-globalization attendees from 170 countries.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.