Muscatine keeps building on friendship with China

Yang Guoqiang, the Consul General of People's Republic of China in Chicago, speaks Wednesday at a luncheon held at Geneva Golf & Country Club in Muscatine.

MUSCATINE, Iowa — The world watched on Feb. 15 when Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping reunited in Roger and Sarah Lande’s living room with Muscatine residents he met here in 1985.

Wednesday afternoon at Geneva Golf & Country Club, without the watchful eye of the world’s media, many of Xi’s “old friends” gathered again to further strengthen Muscatine’s relationship with China. Yang Guoqiang, the Consul General of People’s Republic of China in Chicago, hosted a luncheon attended by about 35 people from both countries.

He had been given personal instructions, Yang said, to organize the luncheon on behalf of Xi as a way of expressing the future president of China’s heartfelt thanks for his warm reception last month in Muscatine.

Yang noted the political and economic importance of meetings Xi also had in Washington and California during his visit to the United States.  “He thought there (was the same) importance to his (his) visit to Iowa,” Yang said of Xi.

The friendships being developed between leaders in China and Muscatine are a model for how the two nations can work together, Yang said.

And Wednesday’s luncheon isn’t likely to be their last meeting, both groups agreed.  Yang said more visitors from China — especially students — are likely to come to Iowa and Muscatine. And talk continued regarding a group from Muscatine visiting China next year after Xi becomes president.

Keith Porter, director of policy and outreach at The Stanley Foundation in Muscatine,  said an exchange program for high school students in Muscatine and China’s Heibei Hebei Province ought to be pursued, along with more Sister City and Sister State relationships and exchanges involving business delegates from both Muscatine and Heibei Hebei Province.

Odds & Ends: After Xi’s visit in February, I was asked several times what had been on the menu at the Lande home for the big moment. To be honest, I don’t know because I didn’t take time to look. And I never saw anyone eating anything. Wednesday, at Geneva Golf & Country Club, the menu included a salad, potatoes, green beans and sea bass, along with some kind of what I think was a mango dessert. The dessert didn’t do much for me, but the fish was great.

Also, Sarah Lande said she has heard from a Muscatine real estate agent who says a Chinese individual on the West Coast wants to buy the former home of Thomas and Eleanor Dvorchak, where Xi stayed when he visited Muscatine in 1985.

Today’s quote: .. one mustn’t criticize other people on grounds where he can’t stand perpendicular himself. — Mark Twain, American writer (1835-1910), in “A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court.”

Note: I have corrected a misspelling of Hebei. I shouldn’t try to write and edit my own words when I can’t sleep at 2 a.m. Thank you to Dan Clark for pointing it out.

Contact me at or on Twitter @csteinbach

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