Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad confirmed to become U.S. Ambassador to China

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WASHINGTON (Gray DC) - Iowa Governor Terry Branstad is a step closer to becoming next ambassador to China. The Senate voting 82-13 Monday night to confirm him. His confirmation comes as the Trump White House seeks to improve relations with Beijing.

Arthur Dong, professor at Georgetown University, says Branstad's post is one of the most important State Department positions in the world.

“Probably one of the most important consulate postings facing the United States as we enter this new phase of China-U.S. relations,” said Arthur Dong, a professor at Georgetown University.

He says Branstad will have his hands full in his new role, but says his personal ties to Chinese President Xi Jinping will help.

“Relationships matter greatly when it comes to successfully negotiating and dealing with the variety of complexities that the United States is facing with regard to China,” said Dong.

Trade and international security are two of the main issues Branstad will have in his sights as he moves east. Professor Dong says the top priority will be getting the U.S. and China on the same page when dealing with North Korea.

“China has a role to play in dialing down the potential for war and the escalation of conflict in that part of the world,” said Dong.

He says all U.S. Senators have a stake in this post and understand the significance of this position.

“Given all the progress that has been made over the past 30 years since the liberalizing reforms in China, they wish to see that reform go forward further,” said Dong.

The State Department tells us they have nothing to announce on when the swearing in ceremony for Branstad will take place.