Several Muscatine residents talked warmly Tuesday afternoon about a planned meeting with an old friend today.
Back in 1985, the group welcomed a Hebei Province, China, official by the name of Xi Jinping. Now in line to become China's next president, Mr. Xi is scheduled to arrive at Quad-CIty International Airport this morning and then motorcade to Muscatine and the home of Roger and Sarah Lande.
Gathered at the Muscatine Public Library Tuesday, the Muscatine residents met with journalists to talk about their planned reunion with Mr. Xi, China's vice president.
Doyle Tubandt, president and chief operating officer of Muscatine Foods Corp., brought with him a tin of black tea, a gift from Mr. Xi in 1985.
"It (tea) meant a lot," Mr. Tubandt said. "That's why I hang onto it. I knew exactly where it was when I heard Mr. Xi was coming."
Mr. Tubandt said he believes Mr. Xi's interest and background in agriculture is an important asset in future relations with China.
"In 1985, there was all this discussion that the world is going to become a global economy, a global community," Mr. Tubandt said. "Twenty-seven years later, it definitely has become a global economy and community.
"Agriculture is vastly more important today," he said. "If you look across the world how the standard of living has improved, the only way that can be sustainable is through agricultural-based industries."
The Landes will welcome Mr. Xi and his delegation, along with Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad, at their Muscatine home. Food will be served and, perhaps, a toast to friendship will be made, Ms. Lande said.
"We are really honored and humbled," she said. "I think he was happy (when here in 1985). He was the spokesperson for the group.
"He had warm things to say. I thought he felt it from the heart," she said. "We can be an example for our nation on how to cooperate and make it mutually beneficial."
Mayor DeWayne Hopkins plans to present Mr. Xi with a brass key to the city, the second Mr. Xi has received from Muscatine.
In Washington Tuesday to visit with President Barack Obama, Mr. Xi is scheduled to arrive at Quad-Cities International Airport between 3 and 4 p.m. Wednesday, according to assisstant director of aviation Bryan Johnson.
Mr. Xi will arrive on an Air China Boeing 747, Mr. Johnson said.
"We finished meeting with our Air China representatives," Mr. Johnson said. "We're all ready to go on this."
Joni Axel, of Muscatine, helped welcome Mr. Xi back in 1985. She said his Muscatine visit should be seen as a sign of interest in a U.S.-Chinese relationship.
"Our whole community would love to be part of the welcome," Ms. Axel said.
Illinois Lt. Gov. Sheila Simon and Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White plan to join Quad-Cities' leaders in welcoming Mr. Xi at the airport. A news release from Lt. Gov. Simon's office stated China is the state's third-largest export market, with exports reaching $3.9 billion in 2011, up 22.5 percent from 2010.
Today is Tuesday, June 18, the 169th day of 2013. There are 196 days left in the year. 1863 -- 150 years ago: Fanatics have grown wonderfully civil since the president snubbedthem by revoking Burnside's infamous attack upon the freedom of the press. 1888 -- 125 years ago: The Interstate baseball league has collapsed, leaving Davenport'sleading team without a league connection. 1913 -- 100 years ago: Passengers were stunned yesterday when lightning struck a LongView street car at 9th Ave. and 25th St. 1938 -- 75 years ago: X-ray examinations today traced the trouble with Dizzy Dean's$250,000 pitching arm to a pulled muscle back of his right shoulder blade. 1963 -- 50 years ago: Radio station WQAD in Moline is being considered by the NationalCivil Defense Office for selection as a "secured communication center" Mrs. Gault,executive deputy director of the Moline Civil Defense unit reported today. 1988 -- 25 years ago: "Marketplace 29 A.D." an unusual vacation Bible school programthat will allow children to live three days as people did during the Bible Times June 21-23. The three day program, is a joint project of Aldersgate and Bethel-Wesley UnitedMethodist churches.