Reporter Journal / Chang Jun

In Seattle, excitement for President Xi's visit fills restaurants, hotels, newspapers

By Chang Jun in San Francisco (China Daily USA) Updated: 2015-09-22 10:16

It seems that the air in the Emerald City is filled with excitement, curiosity and hospitality for the visit of Chinese President Xi Jinping, which officially starts Tuesday.

From the car-rental company staff I encountered at the Tacoma International Airport on Sunday, to Secretary of the State of Washington Kim Wyman and the editor of the Seattle Times Kathy Best, whom I met at different social gatherings on Monday, everyone was speaking the same language: Welcome, Mr President!

In Seattle, excitement for President Xi's visit fills restaurants, hotels, newspapers

I even spotted a front-page story on Xi's visit, with Xi's picture as the focal point, in a local newspaper when I dined out at a small Pho shop in Chinatown on Sunday night. When asked whether he knew who Xi is and why Xi is here, the Vietnamese-American waiter answered me with an affirmative "yes" and "for friendship".

The Larkspur Landing hotel, where I am staying to cover the state visit, does not look like a typical business lodge. However, the receptionist told me that all the rooms have been booked, as many Chinese company representatives and their American counterparts poured in starting last week. The usually tranquil and serene spot about a 20-minute drive from downtown Seattle is now packed with guests speaking different Chinese dialects.

"We are thrilled that President Xi will arrive in Seattle tomorrow… we have so many historic, cultural and business ties between our two great nations," Wyman said at the opening ceremony of the US-China Braille Publications Exchange event on Monday, where she delivered the welcoming speech.

Guo Weimin, vice-minister of the State Council Information Office, echoed Wyman’s excitement by saying China, Washington state and Seattle should work more closely to explore opportunities for bilateral cooperation across different areas.

"We two sides already have very strong economic and trade relations; what we need to do is to keep up the good momentum and expand the good work," Guo said.

Best has assigned 20 of the paper’s best and the brightest reporters and photographers to cover Xi's visit.

"For us people in Seattle, China is like our local story," she said. "We have such a close connection in economy, culture and technology. The locals take great pride in we are the birthplace of big companies like Boeing, and anything we write about Boeing will cause a heated reader discussion."

Janet Tu, who was born in Taiwan, will play an important role in coordinating the special task force at the Seattle Times and the president’s meetings with representatives of a cross section of American society.

On Monday, Tu produced front-page articles plus several short stories on the visit. "Technically, I’m Chinese," Tu said.

Meanwhile, the 15 Chinese companies and business leaders who will communicate with their American counterparts from a variety of backgrounds are honing their skills in order to send clear messages.

Wang Jinshu, chairman of the Shandong Yuhuang Chemical Co, which started its US operation in 1986, will talk to business leaders from China and the US on Tuesday evening. His US subsidiary is to build a $1.85 billion methanol complex on 1,200 acres of farmland in St James Parish, Louisiana. It’s the largest green field investment in methanol by a Chinese company in the US.

"Having a US presence serves many purposes for a Chinese company," said Wang. "We are actually having complementary advantages by utilizing the natural resources surplus in the US to produce things China needs."

Meanwhile, the Chinese companies are employing Americans and paying taxes to the US government, Wang said. "If there is anything I want President Xi and the business leaders to know, that is the cooperation between the US and China should be a consistent and everlasting national policy."

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