After jokes, applause at dinner, China's Xi gets down to U.S. business

Reuters News
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Posted: Sep 23, 2015 7:07 AM

By Michael Martina and Alwyn Scott

SEATTLE (Reuters) - A day after wooing Seattle's elite with pop-culture jokes and promises of reform, Chinese President Xi Jinping gets down to business on Wednesday, meeting Apple Inc’s Tim Cook and other top tech executives.

The first leg of a trip to the United States, the Seattle stop offers a chance to highlight China’s cooperation with U.S. companies firms before he heads to Washington, where he will have to contend with the full spectrum of irritants in relations, from tension in the South China Sea to human rights.

In a speech on Tuesday night Xi joked that there was no power struggle in China over an anti-corruption drive.

“There is no House of Cards,” Xi said, drawing laughter with a reference to the U.S. television drama about merciless political machinations that is also popular in China.

Xi also gave a nod to author Ernest Hemingway and past U.S. presidents, and got a standing ovation from his audience of officials and business leaders.

He is due to speak on Wednesday to 30 U.S. and Chinese chief executives, including Apple's Cook, Amazon.com's Jeff Bezos, Satya Nadella from Microsoft Corp and Berkshire Hathaway's Warren Buffett.

Top executives from Honeywell, Boeing , Cisco Systems, IBM, Starbucks, as well as Chinese firms Alibaba, Lenovo and Baidu, among others, will also attend.

Xi will also tour the Everett, Washington, factory where Boeing makes aircraft such as the 777 and 787 Dreamliner, and where the plane maker is expected to announce a new Chinese finishing plant for its 737 airliner.

In Beijing on Wednesday, China's ICBC Financial Leasing Co said it had signed an agreement with Boeing to buy 30 737-800 aircraft.

Later on Thursday, Xi will head to the Microsoft campus, where tech executives are set to hold a U.S.-China Internet forum. 

On Tuesday, Xi touched on a litany of issues that have seriously frayed U.S.-China ties, promising that China would not manipulate its currency to boost exports, nor engage in cyber-theft and it would speed up the opening of its market.

Despite the reassurances, he is likely to be pressed for specifics in his meetings.

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker greeted Xi on Tuesday, offering cooperation and support before saying that the U.S. government and companies have “serious concerns” about “the lack of a level playing field across a range of sectors".

(Editing by Robert Birsel)