LOS ANGELES (CBS) — Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping, who is expected to be the next president of the world’s most populous nation, is in Los Angeles Thursday for a quick visit expected to include a visit to the Port of Los
Angeles, the announcement of an entertainment deal involving a major studio, and an economic forum downtown.
Xi, whose visit is the first to Los Angeles by a high-level Chinese official in 13 years, also will watch Friday’s Los Angeles Lakers game with Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa before flying home.
Analysts say the trip could offer an important Sino-American relationship-building opportunity in the shipping, tourism and entertainment industries. They also expect Villaraigosa and Gov. Jerry Brown to push hard for
Chinese investment in a planned high-speed rail project from Los Angeles to San Francisco and regional L.A. County transit projects.
Xi arrived at Los Angeles International Airport from Iowa around 1:30 p.m. Brown and Villaraigosa will be at LAX to welcome Xi, who experts believe will become China’s president next year and hold the post for 10 years.
The officials will then travel to the Port of Los Angeles to visit the China Shipping terminal, which is undergoing a $121 million expansion that will more than double its space at the port to 142 acres.
In 2011, total trade between China and the Port of L.A. was valued at more than $133 billion.
Members of the Tibetan Association of Northern California, which supports Tibetan autonomy and accuses China of human rights violations, are expected to arrive by bus in Southern California today to protest Xi’s visit.
“This is a big opportunity for us to show the Chinese officials that all Tibetans stand in solidarity, and we will continue to fight for our country,” the group said on its website.
Xi has no public events Thursday night but a packed schedule on Friday, when he is expected to announce a deal with DreamWorks Animation to jointly build and operate a studio in Shanghai with two state-owned Chinese media companies, Shanghai Media Group and China Media Capital.
The deal, which would have the three companies produce original films and television programs for the Chinese audience, would give DreamWorks Animation the most significant access to China’s media market of any company,
the Financial Times reported.
Xi, Commerce Secretary John Bryson and Villaraigosa will speak at the China-U.S. Economic Trade Forum at the JW Marriott near L.A. Live Friday morning.
Xi also will meet there with Los Angeles County Supervisor Mike Antonovich regarding trade partnerships with the county.
Afterward, Xi, Bryson and Villaraigosa plan to rendezvous with Vice President Joe Biden at a Los Angeles school before a welcome luncheon hosted by Villaraigosa at the JW Marriott.
Chinese officials will also attend a private agreement-signing between city officials and the Chinese telecommunications company ZTE Corporation. The city will commit to helping the company find possible sites for expansion and
network with possible clients in the city. ZTE will commit to expand the company’s scope in Los Angeles.
Also on Friday, Brown will host a U.S. and Chinese Governors’ Roundtable at Walt Disney Concert Hall starting at 3:30 p.m.
Xi’s visit comes on the heels of Villaraigosa’s trade mission to China and other Asian countries in December, when the two met to discuss trade and business opportunities in the city.
Chinese-owned businesses in the city employ about 600 people and pay $32 million in wages, according to the mayor’s office.
Xi will conclude his trip Friday night by joining Villaraigosa in attending the Lakers game against the Phoenix Suns at Staples Center. He’s scheduled to leave Friday around 10 p.m. from LAX.
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