MUSCATINE, Iowa — Governor Terry Branstad was honored for his role in forging Muscatine’s relationship with China during a ceremony at the Geneva Country Club on Thursday night.

Branstad, President Trump’s pick for the ambassador of China, said he is looking forward to representing the United States.

“China being the biggest country in the world, as you’ve heard, the fastest growing developing country in the world and we are the largest developed country in the world," Branstad said. "So if the two countries, the United States of America and China can continue to improve our relationship and build our friendship and our trade, that can be not only great for both of our countries but for the entire world.”

He alluded to potential challenges ahead.

“I know there’s a lot of issues that we’re going to have to deal with, but I think the longtime friendship and respect that we have for each other can help us to overcome some of those challenges,” Branstad said.

Several officials, including Chinese Consul General Hong Lei from Chicago also spoke at the reception.

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“China and the United States — we’re enjoying a very robust relationship nowadays. One part of this robust relationship is our relationship with the state of Iowa,” he said, adding that China is Iowa’s third largest trading partner.

Lei also thanked Branstad for his role in fostering the relationship, saying it is “the most important relationship nowadays in the world.”

“We are so glad that our old friend Governor Branstad is nominated by President Trump as the U.S. ambassador to China,” Lei said. “So we think we have a very good ambassador now for United States in China and we are confident he will join hands with us to make this relationship even stronger.”

The governor received a vase from Lei and a framed picture from Dan Stein of the city’s Muscatine-China Relationship Committee.