China President Xi Jinping arrived in Seattle on Tuesday, starting a week-long U.S. diplomatic visit which will culminate on Monday with a speech at the United Nations in New York. On Thursday, Mr. Xi heads to Washington, D.C., to meet with White House and Congressional leaders.
The first leg of Xi’s U.S. tour in Seattle, an area he described as “America’s gateway to Asia”, included tours of a Boeing plant in Everett (China will spend $38 billion to buy 300 planes, Boeing announced Wednesday), and Microsoft headquarters in nearby Redmond.
In addition, Mr. Xi met with 30 U.S. and Chinese business executives on Wednesday at a round-table meeting which included Commerce secretary Penny Pritzker.
According to the New York Times, Ms. Pritzker “told Mr. Xi that corporate America had complaints about cyber theft, forced technology transfer and regulations that unfairly discriminate against American companies.”
The New York Times also reported that, “The head of China’s Internet authority, La Wei, a senior member of Mr. Xi’s delegation, also got an earful from the president of an American tech industry association.”
Twitter, Google, and Facebook (all blocked in China) did not participate in the discussion hosted by former U.S. Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson, according to BBC News, but Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg did meet with Xi on his tour of Microsoft’s campus on Wednesday.
On Tuesday, Mr. Xi gave a policy speech at the Westin hotel in downtown Seattle, sponsored by the National Committee on United States-China Relations and the U.S.-China Business Council. Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates, CEO’s of Boeing and Starbucks, as well as former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, were in attendance.
Now China’s president will fly to the U.S. capitol to meet with government officials in hopes of securing a more beneficial relationship with the West. Specifically, Beijing seeks to open up U.S. investment in its technology sector as well as secure more autonomy in Asia without U.S. interference, particularly in Tibet and the South China Sea.
U.S. objectives overlap as far as some of the overarching issues, but with different goals. China’s militarization of the South China Sea is a major point of contention for both delegations, and talks may help quell fears on both sides.
Maybe the most important issue for American citizens vis-a-vis China is cyber-security and copyright violations of U.S. online content. While sanctions aren’t expected to be leveled against China ahead of Xi’s visit for suspected online espionage, diplomatic proceedings this weekend may determine the course U.S. officials take in dealing with future incidents.
[Reuters] [New York Times] [USA Today] [BBC] [Wall Street Journal] [Photo courtesy Getty via BBC News]