RANCHO MIRAGE (CBSLA.com) — President Barack Obama visited Rancho Mirage Friday afternoon for an informal meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping.
Obama arrived in Air Force One at the Palm Springs International Airport shortly before 3:15 p.m. He was welcomed by Gov. Jerry Brown, Rep. Raul Ruiz, Rancho Mirage Mayor Richard Kite and Palm Springs Mayor Steve Pougnet.
The president was in Santa Monica earlier in the day speaking at a luncheon fundraiser for the Democratic National Committee, which was about a 10-minute drive from where a shooting rampage took place that claimed the lives of five people, including the suspect.
Obama joined Xi for dinner at the 200-acre Sunnylands estate dubbed the “Camp David of the West.” Economic issues, North Korea’s nuclear threats and cybersecurity were among the main topics up for discussion.
The Obama administration has openly accused the Chinese government of hacking into American computers to gain information about advanced military weapons, which is an allegation China denies.
“Two of the largest economies in the world. We’re going to have a healthy economic competition, but we also have a whole range of challenges on which we have to cooperate. From North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs to issues like climate change,” said Obama.
The president was also expected to ask China to limit greenhouse gas emissions and explain that U.S. military activity in Asia was meant to protect U.S. allies and not to threaten China.
Prior to the meeting, crowds protested China’s failed policies.
Tenzin Gyalsten, 20, said his family was forced to flee his native Tibet because of unfair treatment by the Chinese government.
He hopes Obama will push for change.
“Unless something is done, I will lose my homeland and my people,” he said. “Not only are there human rights violations, but environmental damages happening inside Tibet.”
Obama later said he will continue to emphasize the importance of human rights.
“President Xi has spoken of a nation and a people who are committed to self-improvement and progress. History shows that upholding universal rights are ultimately a key to success and prosperity,” he said.
The summit between Obama and Xi ends Saturday.