Chinese President Xi Jinping Arrives In Seattle To Meet With Business and Tech Leaders

abarabaSeatttle, WA

Chinese President Xi Jinping will arrive in Seattle, Washington on Tuesday and participate in a series of talks with Chinese and American business leaders as he kicks off a 7-day visit to the United States followed by a trip to Washington D.C. to meet with U.S. President Obama and then give a speech at the United Nations.

The visit by China’s leader comes at a critical time in relations between the two countries as growing criticism has surfaced from the United States towards China over allegations of cyber spying, cyber theft of U.S. intellectual property, restrictions placed on U.S. companies operating in China, and recent assertiveness by Beijing over territorial claims in the South China Sea.

Chinese President Xi Jinping will join a host of high profile American CEO’s in Seattle on Wednesday for a China-U.S. business roundtable co-hosted by the Paulson Institute which is led by former Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson who invited 15 Chinese and 15 American CEO’s to participate.

Some of the notable American CEO’s attending the roundtable include Apple CEO Tim Cook, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, Berkshire Hathaway CEO Warren Buffett, Disney CEO Bob Iger, Starbucks CEO Howard Schulz, and Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg.

China is sending Alibaba CEO Jack Ma along with CEO’s from several other major companies including Baidu, Lenovo, Tencent, Bank of China, and ICBC.

President Xi Jinping will visit Boeing’s factory north of Seattle in Everett, WA and later meet Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella as he tours Microsoft’s Redmond campus. Microsoft has faced piracy issues in China with its popular software.

Over the next 20 years, China will need over 6,000 new planes, according to estimates from Boeing. The U.S. aerospace giant seeks to strengthen business ties with China’s government to help fulfill a growing demand for new planes.

President Xi Jinping was recently given questions to respond to by the Wall Street Journal over a variety of controversial issues such as cyber security, efforts undertaken to liberalize China’s economy, and land sovereignty disputes on some of the Nansha Islands in the South China Sea where China has been observed developing the islands.

Beijing has expanded its creation of artificial islands in the South China Sea last year, raising concerns by its Asian neighbors, and sparking criticism from officials in Washington who are watching for signs that China is attempting to develop a military base and bolster its power in the region.

President Jinping denied those views in a written response to the Wall Street Journal.

“The Nansha Islands have been China’s territory since ancient times. This is fully backed by historical and legal evidence. China’s development and maintenance of facilities on some of our garrisoned islands and reefs in the Nansha Islands does not impact on or target any other country, and it should not be over interpreted” President Jinping wrote to the WSJ.

“These facilities have been built to improve the working and living conditions of the Chinese personnel on the maritime features, provide international public goods and services, and better uphold navigation freedom and safety in the South China Sea” Jinping added.

Although China stands accused by the U.S. of penetrating important high level government sites through cyberspying and cybertheft, President Jinping denied the claims and wrote about the importance of strengthening cooperation with the U.S. on the issue.

“The Chinese government does not engage in theft of commercial secrets in any form, nor does it encourage or support Chinese companies to engage in such practices in any way. Cybertheft of commercial secrets and hacking attacks against government networks are both illegal; such acts are criminal offenses and should be punished according to law and relevant international conventions” President Jinping wrote in response.

“China and the United States share common concerns on cybersecurity. We are ready to strengthen cooperation with the U.S. side on this issue” the Chinese leader said.

When questioned about recent signs of weakness in the Chinese economy and increased volatility in the market, President Jinping explained that China’s growth is still one of the fastest in the world and Beijing remains committed to making continued economic reforms across China.

“What I want to emphasize, in particular, is that whatever happens, China will stay strongly committed to deepening its reform on all fronts while opening still wider to the outside world. We will work in a coordinated fashion to ensure growth, promote reform, make structural adjustment, improve people’s well-being and forestall risks, enhancing and innovating macro-regulation and ensuring steady and fairly rapid economic development” Jinping wrote.

Another event that will be occurring in Seattle simultaneously during the visit by Chinese President Xi Jinping and his Chinese delegation is the U.S.-China Internet Industry Forum.

Reportedly, major U.S. tech firms were pressured to participate in the forum this year by China’s Internet Czar Lu Wei.

-Johnathan Schweitzer        schweitz31@gmail.com

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