Xi Jinping

US envoy nominee Branstad member of Masons, banned in China

If Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad becomes the next U.S. Ambassador to China, he may want to leave any Masonic symbols at home.

That's because the Freemasons group that Branstad belongs to has been banned in mainland China for decades.

Masonic lodges still exist in Taiwan, but not in China. All the other chapters were eliminated after the communist revolution there in 1949.

"Freemasons believe in freedom of thought, freedom of speech and freedom of action, and I don't think that's what the communist Chinese government is about," said Tim Anderson, who is deputy grand secretary of the Grand Masonic Lodge of Iowa.

Masonic groups usually run into trouble in...