Chinese company donating $300K to establish Iowa study abroad program

MUSCATINE — A Chinese company is donating $300,000 to give Iowa students a chance to study abroad this coming summer and next year.

The Wanxiang Group will donate $300,000 to be used for Muscatine Community School District and Muscatine Community College students to study abroad in China, as part of the 100,000 Strong Initiative, according to the Muscatine Journal. Company officials made the announcement Wednesday, signing a memorandum of understanding with Muscatine officials and Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad.

The company’s executive vice president, Pin Ni, says more than 1,000 students from the U.S. have been to China through the 100,000 Strong Initiative.

“This is a program that we feel is very beneficial to the long-term relations between U.S. and China,” he said.

The Wanxiang Group opened its American operations in Chicago in 1994, and now has more than 100,000 employees and 27 manufacturing plants in the Midwest. The company’s focus is auto parts and renewable energy.

Branstad, who is President Donald Trump’s pick for U.S. Ambassador to China, said he hopes the relationship Iowa and the U.S. have fostered with China will continue through cultural exchange.

“The exchanges of students is one way to build personal relationships and friendships, and that is critically important for both of our countries and the world,” Branstad said.

Chinese President Xi Jinping stayed in Muscatine during an agricultural research trip as a young man and returned to visit in 2012, when he was China’s vice president.

“We think Muscatine will be a magnet for Chinese tourists to visit,” Branstad said.