Seattle has been confirmed as the first stop for Chinese President Xi Jinping and his delegation who will be visiting the United States next week.
Gov. Jay Inslee, who visited China in 2013 as part of a trade mission to Asia, invited President Xi to Washington State in recognition of the state’s strong economic, academic and cultural ties to China. The governor wrote President Xi to say there were significant opportunities to work together on business, research and climate action.
“Over the years, Washington companies have developed strong ties with China, and hundreds of millions of citizens use products from Boeing, Microsoft, Starbucks and other Washington companies on a daily basis,” Inslee wrote. “We know that our ties with the Chinese Academy of Sciences are just the beginning of a relationship that will allow the carbon pollution reduction goals the U.S. and China recently established to become a reality.”
President Xi will be in Seattle September 22-24. He will visit a few locations throughout the region, including Boeing’s Paine Field, Microsoft’s main campus and Lincoln High School in Tacoma. He will also meet with business and government leaders from across the U.S. and offer his only policy speech of his trip at a dinner banquet where dignitaries such as former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger will be in attendance.
Inslee appointed former Washington state governors Gary Locke and Chris Gregoire to lead a 30-person welcoming committee that includes several high profile business, civic and education leaders from the state, and a smaller host committee that includes:
- Ray Conner, CEO of Boeing Commercial Airplanes
- Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft Corporation
- Howard Schultz, Chairman and CEO of Starbucks Coffee Company
- Ana Mari Cauce, Interim President of University of Washington
- Susan Desmond-Hellmann, CEO of Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
- Brad Tilden, CEO of Alaska Airlines
- Jerry Lee, Chairman of MulvannyG2
- Ted Baseler, President and CEO Ste. Michelle Wine Estates
- Christian Schlect, President of Northwest Horticultural Council
- Assunta Ng, Founder and Publisher of Seattle Chinese Post and Northwest Asian Weekly
“China is Washington state’s top export destination, receiving more than $15 billion in Washington-produced goods last year alone and supporting close to 90,000 jobs in our state,” said former Washington state Governor Gary Locke. “Constructive relations between our state and China are critical to the success of our companies large and small and to their competitiveness throughout the world.”
“The people of Washington state and China have enjoyed a long and respectful friendship that has helped support trade, research and education,” said former Washington state Governor Chris Gregoire. “We’ve been fortunate to host the last three Chinese leaders and our partnership has strengthened ties and personal connections through open dialogue. We are honored that Washington state and Seattle are the first stop on President’s Xi visit and look forward to welcoming him.”
China is Washington state’s largest trading partner with more than $29 billion of trade in 2014. Nearly one-fourth of all Washington exports go to China.
In 2014, Seattle became the first city in North America to host the Boao Forum for Asia, an influential international forum for top government and business leaders. In addition, the University of Washington and Beijing’s Tsinghua University, backed by Microsoft, are partnering to open a new technology graduate school in Bellevue, Washington. The Global Innovation Exchange is the first Chinese research institution to establish a U.S. location, with students and faculty from both universities and the goal of creating cutting edge solutions to complex global problems.
Numerous cities throughout Washington and China have established sister-city and friendship relationships including Fuzhou and Tacoma, Kent and Yangzhou, DuPont and Qinghai City, Seattle and Chongqing, Spokane and Jilin, and Lakewood and Danzhou.
President Xi will be the fourth consecutive Chinese leader to visit Seattle – Deng Xiaoping, Jiang Zemin and Hu Jintao before him all came to our region due to the importance of Seattle’s relationship with China.
“Seattle benefits from close economic, cultural and educational ties to China,” said Mayor Ed Murray. “President Xi’s visit is an important opportunity to deepen those ties and advance a constructive dialogue on policy issues important to both countries. Seattle has played an important role in U.S.-China relations and we are honored once again to host the leader of the world’s largest nation and second largest economy.”
The last visit of a sitting president from China to Washington state was by President Hu in 2006. Washington state was also the first state in the U.S. to elect a Chinese American governor, Locke, who then went on to become the first Chinese American Ambassador to China.
“Washington state and China have a 35-year history of mutually beneficial partnerships, including robust trade, scientific research, international education and sustainable development,” said Kristi Heim, Executive Director of the Washington State China Relations Council. “We can leverage our region’s unique strengths to create a strong positive impact on the future of U.S.-China relations.”
Select portions of the visit will be open to media. Media inquiries regarding the president’s visit, media credentials and other logistics should be directed to Porter Novelli Seattle at WAState@porternovelli.com.