Chinese President Xi Jinping arrived in the United States on Tuesday, beginning a busy week that will include an appearance at the United Nations and a State Dinner with Barack Obama at the White House. But the first stop on Xi’s itinerary is Seattle, WA, where the Chinese president is scheduled to deliver a speech Tuesday night at an event co-hosted by Asia Society.
On Wednesday, Xi will tour a Boeing factory in nearby Everett and then meet with tech industry executives from China and the United States at an event arranged by the Paulson Institute. He will also stop by Lincoln High School in Tacoma, WA, which he first visited as a county-level Communist Party official in 1993. The Chinese president will conclude the day’s events by dining with Bill Gates, the founder of Microsoft, at Gates’ home. The vast majority of all computers in China run a version of Windows, the Microsoft operating system that Gates developed. Xi will then fly to Washington on Thursday.
Why does Seattle, the nation’s 15th largest metropolian region, feature so prominently on Xi’s agenda? One primary reason is business. In addition to Microsoft and Boeing, the Seattle area also serves as heardquarters to Starbucks, which has over 1,800 stores in China. Starbucks Chairman Howard Schultz will be among the 650 dignitaries present for President Xi’s remarks Tuesday night.
Relations between China and the United States have grown more tense in the past year, as the two sides have swapped accusations of cyber espionage and disagreed over sovereignty claims in the South China Sea. But in an interview published in the Wall Street Journal on the eve of the trip, Xi struck a hopeful note.
“We maintain close and effective dialogue and cooperation on almost all major international and regional issues and global challenges,” he said. “The growth of the China-U.S. relationship has not only benefited our two peoples, it has also enhanced peace, stability and development in the Asia-Pacific and beyond.”
What can we expect from the speech itself? According to Kevin Rudd, President of the Asia Society Policy Institute, Xi’s talk will “very much frame his state visit to Washington later this week. He is likely to talk about the centrality of the U.S.-China relationship for the future.”
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