A 30-year-old photo shows the long history Trump's incoming ambassador to China has with Xi Jinping

Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad, whom President-elect Donald Trump intends to nominate as US ambassador to China, has a decades-old relationship with the country's president, Xi Jinping, that dates back to the 1980s.

Branstad has accepted Trump's offer for the position, the president-elect's transition team confirmed Wednesday, and Chinese officials were quick to praise Branstad as an "old friend."

Related: Trump's official picks for cabinet and administration positions

Trump's official picks for Cabinet and administration positions
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Trump's official picks for Cabinet and administration positions

Counselor to the President: Kellyanne Conway

REUTERS/Joshua Roberts

Veterans Affairs Secretary: David Shulkin

(Photo credit DOMINICK REUTER/AFP/Getty Images)

Transportation secretary: Elaine Chao

(Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Energy secretary: Rick Perry

(Photo credit KENA BETANCUR/AFP/Getty Images)

Secretary of State: Rex Tillerson

 REUTERS/Daniel Kramer

Secretary of Defense: Retired Marine General James Mattis

(Photo by Samuel Corum/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

Chief of staff: Reince Priebus

(JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)

Chief strategist: Steve Bannon


Attorney General: Senator Jeff Sessions

(Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Director of the CIA: Kansas Rep. Mike Pompeo

(Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Deputy national security adviser: K.T. McFarland

(Photo by Michael Schwartz/Getty Images)

White House counsel: Donald McGahn

(Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Ambassador to the United Nations: South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley

(Photo by Astrid Riecken For The Washington Post via Getty Images)

Education secretary: Betsy DeVos

(Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Commerce secretary: Wilbur Ross

(Photo by Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Homeland security secretary: General John Kelly

(Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Housing and urban development secretary: Ben Carson

(Photo credit NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)

Administrator of Environmental Protection Agency: Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt

(Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

Health and human services secretary: Tom Price

(Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Department of Homeland Security: Retired General John Kelly

(REUTERS/Joshua Roberts)

Secretary of agriculture: Sonny Perdue

(BRYAN R. SMITH/AFP/Getty Images)

Branstad and Xi's first meeting occurred in 1985 — Xi had traveled to Iowa as part of a delegation that visited family and commercial farms, according to the Des Moines Register.

Then, Branstad was in his first term as governor, just two years after Iowa launched a sister-state relationship with China's Hebei province.

They met again on Branstad's 2011 visit to China, when Xi had become vice president. The men held a 45-minute discussion, during which Xi reminisced about the hospitality he had experienced in Iowa during his 1985 visit, The Washington Post reported.

Over the next five years, Branstad and Xi met frequently, mostly during trade missions.

Branstad's nomination is expected to reassure the Chinese, who have been wary of Trump's past behavior and comments. Over the past week, Trump has assailed China's trade and currency policies and threatened punitive tariffs on Chinese goods.

He also came under fire for accepting a congratulatory phone call last Friday from the president of Taiwan, which is not recognized as a sovereign nation by China. The US cut off official diplomatic relations with Taiwan in 1979 in favor of relations with Beijing.

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