Chinese President Hu Jintao on Jan. 21 promised to help create needed jobs in the United States as he basked in a warm welcome in Chicago at the end of an often contentious state visit.
A day after heated discussions with lawmakers in Washington, Hu tried to show a more human side of the rising Asian power as he visited the third largest city, where he met with business leaders, students and local dignitaries. At a suburban warehouse, Hu toured an exhibition showcasing more than 30 Chinese companies that operate in the Midwestern metropolis which he said "have injected fresh momentum into the American economy and created jobs here."
"The Chinese government will continue to encourage our companies to do business and make investments here. We hope the American government will help provide a welcome environment for Chinese businesses," Hu said.
China has faced intense pressure from the United States and other major economies over its economic policies, with Beijing a favorite target of candidates during last year's congressional election. Many U.S. lawmakers accuse China of artificially keeping its currency low so it can flood the world with cheap exports. Hu, in a speech in Washington, hit back by saying that US consumers have saved $600 billion in the past decade thanks to "quality yet inexpensive Chinese products."
Commerce Secretary Gary Locke, addressing a trade forum in Chicago on the sidelines of Hu's visit, said U.S. businesses worried in China about the theft of intellectual property, closed decision-making and preferences toward domestic companies. "In my travels across the country, I continue to hear stories of exasperation from American business leaders concerned about the commercial environment in China," Locke said.
At the start of Hu's visit, President Barack Obama's administration said that China had agreed to contracts that would support 235,000 U.S. jobs including a $19 billion deal to buy 200 planes from Chicago-based Boeing Co.
Mayor Richard Daley escorted Hu throughout his tour of Chicago, the adopted hometown of Obama and home to some 300 companies that do business in China including Boeing, telecom giant Motorola and iconic chewing gum maker Wrigley.
"Our long-range goal is to make Chicago the most 'China-Friendly' city in the United States," Daley said.
Hu started the final day of his state visit at a Chicago school that teaches Chinese language. He beamed as a student presented him with a bouquet of orchids.Chicago teenagers learning Chinese waved flags and shouted "Huanying," or "Welcome," as he arrived. Students donned traditional garb as they performed Chinese handkerchief and kung fu fan dances.
"I hope that all the students here will manage to practice hard, study hard in good conscience and carry full convictions forward into their lives," Hu said, as he invited 20 of the teenagers and faculty members to visit China.
Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2011