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American friend praises Xi's respect for 39-year bail

American friend praises Xi's respect for 39-year bail


Luca Berrone

When asked what contributed to President Xi Jinping's friendship with him over the past 39 years, Luca Berrone, a member of the Board of Trustees of the Sister States of Iowa and American businessman experienced, responded with one word: “Respect”.

In 1985, Xi, then secretary of the Chinese Communist Party committee from Zhengding in Hebei province, led a five-person delegation to Iowa for a two-week visit.

Berrone helped organize the delegation's program and said he was the first person Xi met on his trip to Iowa.

“In his life, I was a nobody in 1985. I happened to be the person who organized a trip, who took him everywhere and took the time to explain things to him,” Berrone told China Daily in Beijing.

They accompanied each other during these two weeks to visit farms, feed suppliers and grain processing companies, which, according to him, “was a great way to dialogue, exchange information and 'learn from each other'.

“There are a lot of things about China that fascinated me and a lot of things that fascinated them about Iowa and the United States.”

Xi and Berrone first met in 2012 in Beijing, when Xi was vice president.

“I didn't see him for 27 years, but I think 27 years later he still respected me, to the point where he not only remembered my name, but he mentioned it.”

When it comes to respect, it takes two to tango. Berrone attributed his respect for Xi to “what he has done for China” over the past decade and honoring the commitments he has made.

Their most recent reunion took place in San Francisco in November during Xi's visit to the United States, when Xi met briefly with him and other representatives dedicated to bilateral friendship.

During the meeting, Xi recalled the details of his trip in 1985, how he enjoyed visiting and meeting Berrone's 4-month-old son for the first time in 1985 in the central town of Muscatine.

Xi is “a great person and a good friend who managed to remember my contact information,” and that made these experiences so meaningful, Berrone added.

In San Francisco, Xi unveiled plans to invite a total of 50,000 young Americans for visits and exchanges in China over the next five years.

Berrone said one of Xi's contributions was “the spirit of cooperation, citizen diplomacy and learning and caring about the culture and habits of others.”

With next year marking the 40th anniversary of the 1985 trip, Berrone said he hopes there will be a big celebration. “It’s amazing to me that (almost) 40 years have gone by, gone by so fast,” he said with a laugh.

Berrone came to China last week with the second delegation from Muscatine High School, which he said “is a great testament to the success” of the first in January, given the very short time since then and the relatively small population. small of Muscatine a town of approximately 25,000 inhabitants.

“Above all, we need to build bridges, not walls. We need to pay less attention to these inflammatory statements,” he said.

As advice to visiting American students, Berrone said: “Don't look at your phone because what you see around you here today, whether it's a food stand, fires traffic, signs, everything is so different and so wonderful.

As a keen China observer and business veteran, Berrone was quick to note China's GDP growth of 5.3% in the first quarter of this year.

“The fact that the Chinese economy is stronger will contribute to a better balance between the two economies,” he said.

He noted that the consumer market in the United States “is still so large, so valuable, that it cannot sustain itself and must be supplied by other countries.”

The two countries must work towards a better understanding of their trade relations, he said.

“At some point there has to be a good mix for both countries to become win-win. Win-win is not a relationship,” he said.




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