LA Mayor speaks highly of meeting with Chinese President

"It was a great meeting." said Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa about his nearly hour-long meeting with China's President Xi Jinping on the morning of May 28 in an interview with sino-us.com. "We talked about the friendship LA has with Beijing and China and (Xi's) upcoming meeting with President Obama. A great United States of America and a great China are very compatible. This is a big world." the mayor noted.

This was the third meeting between Villaraigosa and Xi. Villaraigosa hosted Xi when he visited Los Angeles in 2012 and accompanied him to a Laker's game. According to the Director of Scheduling with the mayor's office Martha Preciado, the two are "friends". That explains why the mayor was able to meet Xi for nearly an hour while the Governor of California Jerry Brown, who was also in China on a trade mission a month ago failed to get such a chance.

Xi Jinping and Villaraigosa at the LA Staples Center, where he watched a Los Angeles Lakers-Phoenix Suns basketball game on February 17, 2012. Photo: www.news.cn

"The people of China are always so warm, always so gracious in receiving us. But nobody is more gracious than your president Xi Jinping. " said the mayor, who spoke highly of Xi, referring to him as "a man of the people". "He is warm and gracious," he complimented, "who is working hard to restore not just the growth in the Chinese economy and a better standard of living for more people, but the greatness of the Chinese culture and society. "

"As a city with a gateway to China and Asia, Los Angeles doesn't need to be convinced that this is the Pacific century. As China rises and Asia grows, so does Los Angeles."  Villaraigosa said. "And this will not be my last visit (to China) even though I’ll no longer be the mayor." he laughed, fueling speculation that he might run for Governor after stepping down as LA mayor.

Villaraigosa  also met with Beijing Mayor Wang Anshun and officials from the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) and Beijing Tourism Bureau on Tuesday. In the evening, he attended a "Discover LA" cocktail party hosted by the Los Angeles Tourism and Convention Board, which was joined by officials from the Beijing Tourism Bureau, Beijing Capital Airport, and a number of Chinese airlines and tourist agencies at the St. Regis Hotel in Beijing.

Los Angeles Mayor Villaraigosa speaks at a cocktail party hosted by  Los Angeles Tourism and Convention Board. Photo: Sino-US.com

In his brief remarks, Villaraigosa emphasized the importance of trade and tourism and foreign direct investment to both Beijing and LA. "Seven years ago when we opened the tourism office in Beijing, many people asked me why. At the time there were only 110,000 Chinese visitors to LA and two international daily non-stop flights between China and LA. Today 460,000 Chinese visitors come to LA every year and there are six international flights."

"Today is a celebration of friendship, and also an opportunity to say thank you. Thank you for your friendship. Thank you for what you have done to connect people of Beijing and China and people of Los Angeles and the United States. " the mayor said in his speech which he ended with an interesting toast, "There is a saying that a rising tide lifts a boat. Here is to a rising China, to a Los Angeles with an east gateway to China, and to all of you, salu. Cheers. Ganbei!"


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