Trump picks Iowa governor Branstad as China ambassador

Terry Branstad, Governor of Iowa.
Justin Solomon | CNBC
Terry Branstad, Governor of Iowa.

The governor of Iowa, Terry Branstad, has accepted President-elect Donald Trump's offer to be U.S. ambassador to China, Trump's transition team said Wednesday.

Trump spokesmen said that Branstad, a Republican who has served as the state's governor since 2011, showed that he had a grasp of trade and agriculture issues when he met with Trump.

Trump's dealings with China have been in focus since Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen called him last week to congratulate him.

The call raised consternation in Beijing, which sees the self-ruled island as a renegade province and objects to other governments dealing with it.

Trump's conversation with Tsai was the first such contact with Taiwan by a U.S. president-elect or president since President Jimmy Carter adopted a "one-China" policy in 1979, recognizing only the Beijing government.

China suspects Tsai wants to push for the formal independence of Taiwan.

Branstad called Chinese President Xi Jinping a "long-time friend" when Xi visited Iowa in 2012.

— CNBC contributed to this report