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New podcast! Introducing "Heartland Mainland: The Iowa China Podcast"

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Friends! It's been a hell of a run since the launch of The Transpacific Experiment back in August. In
 
January 6 · Issue #54 · View online
Matt Sheehan
Friends!
It’s been a hell of a run since the launch of The Transpacific Experiment back in August. In the four months since then, I’ve been crisscrossing the country (+Bangalore, India) for book talks, and had a genuine blast hanging out with so many of the readers of this newsletter.
Meeting and talking with people about their own angles and insights on this stuff is what makes all the toiling over words and ideas feel worthwhile. For that, I really need to thank all of you.
Now feeling rested and refreshed, I’m really (like, really) excited to share my latest project with you, Heartland Mainland: The Iowa China Podcast. Check out the intro video below and read on:

Teaser video for the show!
I know, I know… I’ve been spending years pitching you on why California-China connections are the most important, fascinating and fun part of this superpower relationship. And that’s still true! (And you should definitely still get yourself a copy of The Transpacific Experiment!)
But over the past year I’ve been trekking around Iowa with my trusty co-host, Holly He, and we’ve found Iowa to be a completely fascinating place to dig into US-China ties at the grassroots. While California represents the cutting edge of this superpower relationship, Iowa feels like its center of gravity. That’s because Iowa is a microcosm of the way China impacts so many Midwestern states, but it’s also a place with some totally unique – and uniquely important – ties to China.
Iowa is part Rust Belt, part Farm Belt. It’s a state whose factories were hit hard by Made in China goods a decade ago, but which now finds its farmers caught in the crossfire of a new trade war. Since the financial crisis, Iowa’s universities banked on revenue from Chinese students, but they now face new shortfalls as those flows of students dry up.
Subscribe to Heartland Mainland on Apple Podcasts or Spotify.
Chinese president Xi Jinping spent two weeks in Iowa on his first trip to America in 1985, a visit that would reshape one small town and deeply alter the course of the relationship 33 years later.
Now, as America’s political carnival descends on the state for the Iowa Caucuses, the candidates are all grappling with how to talk about trade, agriculture, and international relations in the American heartland.
In the process of researching this podcast, we made 5 trips out to Iowa, drove thousands of miles around the state, and collected over a hundred hours of conversations with Iowans and Chinese people from all walks of life. We spoke to Chinese students, Iowa farmers, US diplomats, presidential candidates, Walmart shoppers and factory owners.
Me asking Pete Buttigieg abou the trade war at a Town Hall in Newton, Iowa.
Me asking Pete Buttigieg abou the trade war at a Town Hall in Newton, Iowa.
What emerged from all that were really nuanced – and, in my humble opinion, pretty fun – stories of what the US-China relationship looks like in the American heartland.
Our first episode, Freshman Orientation, just went live today. It dives into the impact Chinese students have had on Iowa’s largest universities, and how those Iowa ties ended up shaping a heated debate in the Oval Office.
And make sure to listen all the way to the end of the episode for a totally bizarre twist and bit of personal 缘分 for me that we stumbled into while reporting…
The Iowa State University mascot hugging a Chinese student at a job fair I attended.
The Iowa State University mascot hugging a Chinese student at a job fair I attended.
Holly and I have had a blast making this series, and I really hope you’ll listen, subscribe, and share it with other folks who might be interested.
This is our very first stab at a podcast here at MacroPolo, and it’s a pretty damn ambitious one. If you take a moment to share the podcast, and to give it a rating on Apple Podcasts, that would be do so, so much to help make sure it gets out to more people.
You can always reach me at msheehan@paulsoninstitute.org. I’d love to hear what you think of the show, and also, please don’t hesitate to reach out if you’re in the media/radio/podcast world and are interested in talking about distribution partnerships.
Thanks so much for being a part of this, and here’s to a whole lot more good stuff in 2020!
-Matt
PS: A few more fun pictures below…
Holly interviewing Andrew Yang about the trade war.
Holly interviewing Andrew Yang about the trade war.
Rick became a farming celebrity in China, but now his crops are caught in the trade war..
Rick became a farming celebrity in China, but now his crops are caught in the trade war..
From the road...
From the road...
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