Prince With a Common Touch

"We've displayed to this world leader our work ethic, No. 1, and our value for friendship; that's No. 2," Mayor DeWayne M. Hopkins said in an interview at City Hall. "If that message can be disseminated into the rest of the United States in encouragement for people to be interested in Muscatine and perhaps relocate here -- and I mean people all the way from households up to retail and manufacturing -- then that's a plus."

The above quote refers to the visit to Iowa by Xi Jinping, where the Chinese president in waiting once spent time as a young man. His visit underscores the desire for the Chinese to maintain strong relations with the U.S., but his choice of cities also underscores his sympathies for the common man.

Though he is labeled a "princeling" because of his ties to China's revolutionary hero, he worked in the fields in China and identified with the working class as evidenced by Ms. Dvorchak's recall of his humble demeanor when he stayed as a guest in her home. Americans should be thrilled that Xi Jinping chose to identify with America's heartland rather than the elite 1%.

By bringing media attention to Muscatine, Americans are reminded of the Midwestern work ethic. In many ways, they have much in common with the rural population in China. Such rare visits may provide the opportunity to establish sister city relationships with cities in China and other countries that can pave the way for more future economic and political cooperation and understanding.

More importantly, Xi's visit demonstrates the importance of hosting overseas visitors and sending young people abroad as a way to build stronger diplomacy. No one would have guessed that Xi could be the next leader to run the second largest economy in the world when he first came to the States. The fact that his American hosts left a fond memory for him will no doubt help shape his attitude and foreign policy towards the United States which will benefit both nations. Such citizen diplomacy could arguably have a greater positive impact than all the millions we spend each year in the State department and the trillions we spend in the military.

We should welcome Xi Jinping with warmth and respect as he continues his goodwill tour in the U.S. No doubt that there are many issues to work out between our two nations. But friends can always agree to disagree and find ways to reach a compromise. Rather than treat China and other nations as enemies, we would have a greater chance of achieving our goals of peace and economic prosperity by reciprocating some of our goodwill, too.