China’s Vice President Xi Jinping, the presumed next leader of the world’s most populous nation, takes in a Los Angeles Lakers game today after a tour yesterday of the city’s port.
“Having heard that this is an environmentally friendly, green port, this is a great thing,” Xi, 58, said yesterday at the Port of Los Angeles. “What I see here is a good foundation for U.S.-China economic and trade cooperation.”
Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and California Governor Jerry Brown joined Xi at the port which, along with the neighboring Port of Long Beach, handles the highest volume of cargo arriving from China in the U.S. The port boasts of being the cleanest in the U.S. and possibly the world, based in part on a system for supplying electricity to ships that makes it unnecessary to run their own generators while docked.
The visit to the shipping hub underscored the importance of the trading relationship of the world’s two largest economies and its ability to boost growth in the most-populous American state. China is the second-biggest U.S. trading partner, and two-way commerce rose 10 percent last year to $503.2 billion.
Xi yesterday attended a banquet in Los Angeles with the city’s Chinese-American business community. Today he is set to speak at a business conference, tour a school with Vice President Joe Biden, and attend the Lakers basketball game with Villaraigosa.
Xi arrived yesterday after stops this week in Washington to meet with President Barack Obama and in Iowa, and trade has dominated his agenda. Obama told him the yuan remains undervalued and Chinese officials signed $4.3 billion worth of deals to buy soybeans.
Li Shaode, chairman of China Shipping (Group) Co., the nation’s second-largest shipping line, accompanied Xi and the California officials for a tour of the company’s cargo terminal. China Shipping is currently doubling the size of its Los Angeles facility to 142 acres as part of a $121 million expansion, due for completion in 2014.
Brown also touted California’s alternative energy technologies. “We’re more advanced than Washington,” he said.
DreamWorks Animation SKG Inc. may announce a joint venture in China during Xi’s visit, and Los Angeles plans to announce expanded tourism and trade deals with the country, according to Villaraigosa’s office.
Villaraigosa, who met Xi in China and invited him to Los Angeles, said the Chinese leader’s first words to him today were, “I kept my promise. I’m here.”
Xi is an NBA fan and especially of Kobe Bryant, the Lakers guard, the mayor said.
After leaving Los Angeles, Xi will fly to Ireland for an official visit. He then travels to Turkey to meet with Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Ankara on Feb. 21 before returning to China.