Xi starts US visit in Seattle, where he will meet tech titans

September 23, 2015 08:38
Xi Jinping and his wife, Peng Liyuan, arrive at Paine Field, near Seattle, Tuesday. Photo: AFP

President Xi Jinping landed in Seattle on Tuesday to start a week-long US visit, Reuters reported.

He will meet US business leaders, be hosted by President Barack Obama at a state dinner at the White House and address the United Nations.

Xi and his wife touched down at Paine Field, next to the massive plant where Boeing Co. makes its largest jets, about 40 kilometers north of Seattle.

They were welcomed by Washington state Governor Jay Inslee.

In downtown Seattle, about 100 people -- both for and against Xi's presence -- gathered peacefully outside his hotel.

Protesters representing Falun Gong, a religious group that says it is repressed in China, held placards, while well-wishers waved Chinese and US flags and large, red cloth signs that read "Hello President Xi" in Chinese characters.

Xi is due to make a policy speech at a banquet at the hotel in the evening in the company of Microsoft Corp. co-founder Bill Gates, the chief executives of Boeing and Starbucks Corp. and other local luminaries.

The Chinese leader's visit to Seattle, which he called "America's gateway to Asia" in prepared remarks upon his arrival, comes at a delicate time in US-China relations.

US government and business leaders aim to strike a balance between forging agreements and improving relations with the world's second-largest economy on one hand, while sending strong messages about allegations of Chinese cyberspying and intellectual property violations as well as internet censorship and China's disputed territorial claims to islands in the South China Sea on the other.

For the Chinese side, Xi's meetings with Obama and US business leaders offer the chance to bolster Xi's stature at home, building on a high-profile military parade earlier this month to mark the end of World War II, while deflecting attention from the country's recent stock market rout and slowing economic growth.

Xi is due to tour Boeing's widebody plant and the nearby Microsoft campus Wednesday, and will later meet Warren Buffett, Apple Inc. chief executive Tim Cook and Amazon.com head Jeff Bezos among 30 US and Chinese business leaders at a roundtable discussion.

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