Amid strained US ties, China finds unlikely friend in UtahSALT LAKE CITY (AP) — China’s global campaign to win friends and influence policy has blossomed in a surprising place: Utah, a deeply religious and conservative state with few obvious ties to the world’s most powerful communist country. A Chinese state media outlet reported the Utah students jubilantly exclaimed: “Grandpa Xi really wrote back to me. ‘UTAH IS NOT LIKE WASHINGTON D.C.’The AP found groups of up to 25 Utah lawmakers routinely took trips to China every other year since 2007. He has frequently forwarded messages from Chinese government officials to Utah lawmakers and helped the Chinese Embassy set up meetings with state officials. Chinese officials have tried to cultivate friendly ties with the church.