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DES MOINES, Iowa–Iowa Governor Terry Branstad spent two hours Tuesday morning before U.S. Senator who have to decide whether he deserves the chance to become the country’s Ambassador to China.

“Beijing is not China,” Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chair Bob Corker, a Tennessee Republican, joked to Branstad in some of the first words of the meeting.

Branstad took questions on China’s record on human rights, intellectual property and its influence on North Korea. Senators, including Corker and Democratic Senator Maryland Senator Ben Cardin, mostly praised Branstad’s record as governor.

Branstad cited his decades-long relationship with China’s President Xi Jinping as an asset but added that it won’t keep him from discussing uncomfortable issues. “Just because the leader of China calls me an old friend won’t make me at all reluctant or bashful about bringing up issues where we think they have not been fair.”

If the committee recommends Branstad should become ambassador, it then refers the issue to the full senate. The senate could then vote on Branstad’s confirmation in the next few weeks. Branstad would then resign as governor and Lt. Governor Kim Reynolds could replace him before the end of May.