China's President Xi Jinping begins first US visit in Seattle
Wednesday, 23 September 2015 - 11:20
Chinese president Xi Jinping landed in Seattle on Tuesday to kick off a weeklong US visit that will include meetings with US business leaders, a black-tie state dinner at the White House hosted by President Barack Obama and an address at the United Nations.
Xi and his wife touched down in an Air China 747 at Paine Field, adjacent to the massive plant where Boeing Co makes its largest jets, some 25 miles (40 km) 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 the Westin 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 Jinping: Does China truly love 'Big Daddy Xi' – or fear him? Read more
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 Co 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, 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. The audio long read What’s behind Beijing’s drive to control the South China Sea? – Podcast
China's startling attempt to assert control over vast waters has alarmed nearby countries and escalated tensions with the US. Howard W French reports from Hainan, the island at the heart of Xi Jinping's expansionist ambitions Listen
For the Chinese side, Xi’s meetings with Obama and US business leaders offer the chance to bolster the president’s stature at home, building on a high-profile military parade earlier this month to mark the end of the second world war, while deflecting attention from the country’s recent stock market rout, slowing economy and chemical explosions at a Tianjin warehouse that killed over 160 people.