Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping is wrapping up a five-day visit to the United States with a stop in Los Angeles Thursday and Friday. Xi, who is in line to succeed Chinese President Hu Jintao as China's top leader, is meeting with local officials and business leaders in the West Coast U.S. city.
The visit, which began in Washington Monday, is a get-acquainted tour, but critics are taking China to task over trade and human rights.
Chinese Americans were out in force to welcome Xi to Los Angeles. They included students from UCLA and Chinese American lawyer Ping Shen, who says the United States and China need to cooperate.
“For that reason, I come here holding the flags of China and America since I'm Chinese and American, so that's why I think it's a good thing to come here," Shen said.
The Chinese vice president arrives on the West Coast after visits to Washington DC and Muscatine, Iowa, a town where he stayed on an agricultural tour 27 years ago.
Xi is talking trade in Los Angeles, where most of the business at the port is done with China.
Los Angeles business leader Richard Koo has met Xi several times in China, as the Chinese official was rising through the ranks. Xi impressed him, but he says American business leaders want China to adhere to global standards of fair trade.
“We want China, as one of the global large countries, to follow the pattern. Then we can trade with them, and also continue to invest with them,” Koo said.
Xi is expected to announce a joint venture in the entertainment business. He will tour the LA port, attend an economic forum, and if time permits, watch an LA Lakers professional basketball game.
China's critics hope to reach him with their message. China's economic development requires respect for human rights and a commitment to free speech, says Ann Lau of the Visual Artists Guild, which is protesting the treatment of dissidents.
“The right to freedom of speech is not only limited to criticizing the government, but also to push the government in such a way that the government will respect the rule of law.
And if they respect the rule of law, business people will feel much safer in doing business in China,” Lau said.
Xi will leave Los Angeles Friday night. Both sides hope that the airing of differences will pave the way for better relations.