The World Food Prize Foundation

The World Food Prize Foundation Invites the United States and China to Sign a New Trade Agreement in Des Moines, Iowa, at the Hall of Laureates


In a statement earlier this year, President Donald Trump suggested that a historic signing event related to U.S.-China trade issues might take place in Iowa. Now that such an event may be imminent, the World Food Prize Foundation would like to issue an invitation to the presidents of both countries to hold such an event at our Hall of Laureates in Des Moines, a historic facility with special meaning to President Xi Jinping and his father.

“This would be the most meaningful site a U.S. - China trade agreement signing ceremony,” said Amb. Kenneth M. Quinn, president of the World Food Prize Foundation. Hosted by Amb. Quinn, The Hall of Laureates was the site of the U.S. - China High-Level Agricultural Symposium at which Chinese president Xi Jinping spoke on February 16, 2012.

Amb. Quinn who first visited China in 1979 when he met then Paramount Leader Deng Xiaoping and has made four visits to China in 2019 alone, said that the Hall of Laureates pays specific tribute to the U.S. - China relationship going back 40 years, and would therefore be an especially appropriate venue for such a ceremony. That event represented the high point in U.S.-China economic and trade relations.  

Amb. Quinn cited the following reasons for issuing this invitation for the Hall of Laureates as the ideal location for this event:

  • President Xi Jinping spoke in the historic Hall of Laureates on Feb. 16, 2012, when, as Vice President of China, he delivered the keynote address at the U.S. - China High Level Agricultural Symposium;

  • During that visit in 2012, contracts worth $3.5 billion in U.S. soybean exports to China were signed in the Hall of Laureates between Chinese importers and U.S. farm groups; 

  • American Ambassador to China Terry Branstad, the then Governor of Iowa, served as host for that 2012 return visit of Vice President Xi to Iowa. Governor Branstad had also welcomed then 31-year-old county level Party Secretary Xi Jinping from Hebei Province on his first trip to Iowa in 1985;

  • During the 2012 visit of Vice President Xi Jinping, an Agreement on U.S. - China Strategic Cooperation in Agriculture was signed in the Hall of Laureates between the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture and the Chinese Minister of Agriculture;

  • The Hall of Laureates is named in honor of Dr. Norman E. Borlaug, America’s most celebrated agricultural scientist, whose statue stands in the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. Dr. Borlaug was among the very first Americans to travel to China and collaborate in uplifting Chinese agriculture and is considered a great friend to China;

  • The most renowned Chinese agricultural scientist is Professor Yuan Longping, who received the World Food Prize in Des Moines in 2004 for being the Father of Hybrid Rice. He was presented the award by Dr. Borlaug, the Father of the Green Revolution and Ambassador Quinn. Prof. Yuan’s portrait is in the Hall of Laureates;

  • The historic visit to Iowa in 1980 of Governor Xi Zhongxun, President Xi Jinping’s father, is highlighted in a painting that hangs in the Hall of Laureates. Governor Xi was escorted around Iowa by Amb. Quinn; 

  • That painting, which also recalls the 1985 visit of President Xi, is titled “Two Interesting Stories.” This was said by President Xi when Amb. Quinn told him that he was commissioning the painting in honor of both the President and his father;  

  • In May of 2018, a book titled “Old Friends: The Xi Jinping Iowa Story,” authored by Sarah Lande of Muscatine, was launched at the Hall of Laureates. Ms. Lande, who was one of the hosts for the 1985 visit to Iowa by the Xi Jinping delegation from Hebei Province, is accorded special friendship status in China; and 

  • The World Food Prize Hall of Laureates is adjacent to the Gov. Robert D. Ray Asian Garden, a gazebo style structure fabricated in China and dedicated by two Chinese ambassadors to the United States, as a symbol of Sino-American friendship.

Amb. Quinn noted that in September while speaking at a conference in New York, he had encouraged a U.S.-China meeting and offered to make the World Food Prize Hall of Laureates available. 

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