By the Des Moines River, Iowa, sits a century-old landmark, the World Food Prize Hall of Laureates. Chinese President Xi Jinping once visited the building to attend the U.S.-China High-Level Agricultural Symposium in February 2012 as then Vice President of China.
Kenneth M. Quinn, then president of the World Food Prize Foundation told People’s Daily in a recent interview that he was honored to have received and had conversations with the Chinese leader.
Ten years later, Quinn can still remember the visit. He called it the high point of U.S.-China exchanges after the two countries established diplomatic ties in 1979.
Iowa, known as the “granary of the U.S.,” shares a close bond with China. In 1985, Xi, then Party chief of Zhengding County in north China’s Hebei province, visited Iowa as a member of an agricultural delegation and stayed in the home of a local resident in Muscatine, where he made friends with a lot of hospitable locals.
The 2012 visit renewed this friendship.
“I got a call from then Secretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture Tom Vilsack before the visit of the Chinese delegation to see if the World Food Prize Foundation could receive it, and gladly I said yes,” Quinn recalled.
At the agricultural symposium, Quinn introduced the exchanges between the World Food Prize Foundation and China to the Chinese delegation, and the two sides exchanged views on food security and international agricultural cooperation.
Quinn said Xi’s remarks during the visit left a deep impression on him. Xi quoted well-known American writer Mark Twain to greet friends who had received him, which was moving, Quinn told People’s Daily.
He said it was a wonderful experience for ordinary Iowans to hold a connection with a world leader.
The people are the creators of history. Xi, with a long-term perspective, has always stressed that the development of China-U.S. relations relies on the two peoples’ participation and support.
Since this year, Xi has sent reply letters to the chairman of the Helen Foster Snow Foundation Adam Foster, Mayor of Tacoma Victoria Woodards and Mayor of Steilacoom Dick Muri of the U.S. State of Washington, as well as Sarah Lande, a friend of his in Iowa. He wrote the significance of people-to-people friendship and promoted friendly exchanges between the two peoples.
Quinn read the report delivered by Xi at the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC). He said Xi portrayed an inspiring vision for China, and the importance attached by Xi on agriculture impressed him very much.
“I think it has a close relation with his experience of living in the remote villages. He has an understanding of rural people, rural life, and he makes policies based on that,” Quinn said.
Since the 18th CPC National Congress, China has won the battle against poverty and made a miracle in the human history of poverty alleviation. Quinn praised China’s relentless efforts to eliminate poverty, stressing it was an achievement that no other country had ever achieved.
He believes China’s poverty alleviation experiences are worth learning for other countries. In particular, China’s practice of strengthening transport networks in remote and rural areas has set an example for the rest of the world, he once said in another interview.
Quinn was once the U.S. Ambassador to Cambodia before he served as the president of the World Food Prize Foundation. He believes the U.S. and China share substantial common interests though their relations are facing challenges.
“Without U.S.-China cooperation, we cannot tackle global issues such as climate change, food shortage and prevention and control of infectious diseases. The two countries must handle their relations properly for the Earth, the only planet we call home, and for the common interests of humanity,” Quinn told People’s Daily.
He said he hopes the U.S. and China can get back to the right track of cooperation and make joint efforts to tackle global issues based on the principle of mutual respect, peaceful coexistence and win-win cooperation.
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