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Brown to play host to Chinese VP for 2 days

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POSTED February 15, 2012 8:06 p.m.

 

SACRAMENTO  (AP) — Gov. Jerry Brown will welcome Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping to California with a tour of the Port of Los Angeles and events highlighting the economic and cultural ties between the world's most populous nation and the U.S. state with the most people and largest economy, the governor's office announced Wednesday.

Xi arrives Thursday for a two-day diplomatic stop after visiting Washington, D.C., and Iowa. Brown and Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa will welcome China's next leader at Los Angeles International Airport, and they will then tour a shipping terminal at the port.

On Friday, Brown will address Chinese and American business leaders about trade. The governor is expected to meet privately with Xi in Los Angeles and then host a round-table that includes other governors and Chinese provincial leaders.

Brown, a Democrat, said he wants to foster the state's relationship with China's next leader and encourage foreign investment in the state.

"China has trillions of dollars in reserves and they're going to be investing that increasingly throughout the world. I would like to see some of that money come into California for productive investment," the governor said in a three-minute interview with The Associated Press on Wednesday.

Brown declined to go into specifics about the types of investments he would like China to make in California. He characterized the carefully scripted meetings as relationship building.

"We're an international economy in California and we look to other states and other countries. And it just so happens that as a state on the Pacific Rim, China is a natural commercial partner and I want to foster that to a maximum degree," Brown said.

Brown, who has studied Zen Buddhism, said he does not plan to raise thorny issues between the two countries, such as Buddhist clergy opposed to Chinese rule in Tibet or labor practices in China.

"I'm going to concentrate on jobs and investment in California," he said. "That's my goal."

Brown sent letters to Vice President Joe Biden and Xi last November, personally inviting them to stop in California given economic and cultural ties between the state and country. Brown noted that California's nearly $2 trillion economy includes everything from Hollywood and Silicon Valley to agriculture and hospitality.

"California is a significant political and economic force and any sound projects that China and California undertake would help not only China, but advance bilateral relations between the United States and China as well," Brown wrote.

California, with more than 37 million residents, has a 13 percent Asian population. Based on data from the 2010 census, there were 4.9 million Asians in California including, including 1.2 million Chinese and 96,000 Taiwanese.

Nationwide, Asians make up fewer than 5 percent of the U.S. population.

According to state economic data, California exported $14 billion worth of goods to China in 2011, led by computer and electronic parts, waste and scrap and transportation equipment. Agricultural and food products also rank high.

That pales in comparison to how much China exports to California. According to the state, China shipped $113 billion worth of goods to California in 2010, the most recent available year. China's leading exports to California are computers, electronics, clothes and accessories.

China recently moved ahead of Japan as the world's second largest economy.

Xi will start his transition as leader of China later this year. He met Tuesday with President Barack Obama in getting acquainted with the U.S.

He is set to replace Hu Jintao as leader of China's communist party later this year, then succeed him as president in 2013.

Recent concerns about Chinese labor practices show just how interwoven the two economies have become.

Apple, the most valuable company in the world, is based in Cupertino and has come under criticism over labor and environmental practices in China. One of its suppliers, Foxconn, a unit of Taiwan's Hon Hai Precision Industry Co., employs an estimated 1 million people in China at a series of huge factory campuses.

In 2010, there was a rash of suicides at Foxconn's Shenzhen plant, and plant managers installed nets to prevent more people from committing suicide by jumping from the roof. Last May, an explosion at the company's Chengdu, China, plant killed three people and injured 15.

A New York Times story published Jan. 26 reported on accidents and long hours in Foxconn factories, based on workers' accounts. Foxconn disputed allegations of back-to-back shifts and crowded living conditions.

Apple has been conducting its own audits of working conditions at factories where its gadgets have been assembled since 2006. A month ago, it took the additional step of joining the Fair Labor Association, a Washington, D.C.-based group of companies and universities focused on improving labor practices.

 

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