Then Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping (Front, C) and his old friends pose for group photos in Muscatine, Iowa, the United States, Feb. 15, 2012. (Xinhua/Lan Hongguang)
BEIJING, Sept. 22 (Xinhua) -- Xi Jinping is embarking on his first state visit to the United States as the Chinese president, but he is surely no stranger to the American people as it is actually his seventh trip to the country.
In the past three decades, Xi visited the United States six times, perhaps more than any of his predecessors. During the visits, his footprints extended from the cornfields of Iowa to the Annenberg Retreat at Sunnylands in California.
Thirty years ago, when a visiting Chinese official slept in Gary Dvorchak's bedroom while Dvorchak was away at college, no one imagined that the visitor would one day become China's president.
File photo taken in 1985 shows Xi Jinping, then secretary of the Zhengding County Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC), poses for photos as he visits San Francisco in the United States. (Xinhua Photo)
He was then a young and promising junior official, leading a five-person agricultural delegation to Muscatine, Iowa.
It is believed to be Xi's first trip outside China and perhaps his first and only experience of staying with an American family.
During the stay, he visited farms, attended a local birthday party and picnicked on a boat with his hosts on the Mississippi River.
During the 1990s, Xi made another two trips to a host of American cities to study their successful experience in city planning.
Then Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping (3rd R, front) joined dozens of ordinary Americans for tea at a local house owned by his old friend Sarah Lande (3rd, L) in Muscatine, a small city in Iowa, the United States, Feb. 15, 2012. (Xinhua/Lan Hongguang)
Xi made his fourth trip to the United States in 2006 as party secretary of China's eastern Zhejiang province to promote economic and trade cooperation and communication.
When he made his fifth visit to the United States, almost 27 years after his first U.S. trip, Xi, who was then China's vice president, had only one personal request -- a stop in Muscatine, Iowa, to visit his "old friends," including Dvorchak's parents.
Xi and his delegation flew from Washington, D.C. directly to Quad City International Airport on Feb. 15, 2012. The motorcade carrying Xi and a small group of officials then made a 35-mile trip to Muscatine and the home of Roger and Sarah Lande, two of Xi's "old friends," who spent an hour with Xi reminiscing and chatting.
Then Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping (C) addresses a luncheon jointly hosted by his U.S. counterpart Joe Biden (R) and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in Washington, the United States, Feb. 14, 2012. (Xinhua/Zhang Duo)
Xi told his old friends: "You were the first group of Americans that I came into contact with. My impression of the country came from you. To me, you are America."
This short stopover displayed the power of personal diplomacy.
"Even though it was raining, it was a glorious day in Muscatine," recalled DeWayne Hopkins, mayor of Muscatine.
"President Xi is no stranger to the United States," U.S. President Barack Obama said when meeting with Xi in June 2013 at Sunnylands.
Chinese President Xi Jinping (L) and U.S. President Barack Obama take a walk before heading into their second meeting, at the Annenberg Retreat, California, the United States, June 8, 2013. (Xinhua/Lan Hongguang)
The meeting took place only three months after Xi took office as Chinese president. It had been widely anticipated that Xi would have his first presidential-level talks with Obama at the G20 summit in Russia in September 2013. However, Xi made it happen earlier by dropping by during his trip to Latin America.
The two leaders reached a consensus on building a new model of China-U.S. relations featuring no conflict, no confrontation, mutual respect, cooperation and common prosperity.
Then Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping (C, front) is presented with souvenir jerseys with names of Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant and Los Angeles Galaxy soccer player David Beckham at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, the United States, Feb. 17, 2012. (Xinhua/Lan Hongguang)
Outside the talks which covered serious issues including military relations, cyber security and climate change, the two presidents were seen strolling side by side under the desert sun, without jackets or ties, in the finely manicured gardens of the Annenberg estate.
Xi's first state visit to the United States on Sept. 22-25, which was called by U.S. National Security Advisor Susan Rice a "milestone in deepening our cooperation and strengthening our relationship", has been a focus for media from around the world.