Xi: Eco-friendly trade 'solid foundation'

Feb. 17, 2012 at 4:30 AM
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LOS ANGELES, Feb. 17 (UPI) -- The Port of Los Angeles' eco-friendly policies are "a solid foundation" for U.S.-China business, China's vice president said ahead of a trade talk Friday.

"Having heard that this is an environmentally friendly, green port, this is a great thing," Xi Jinping said on visiting the 7,500-acre container port, where the terminal for China Shipping Container Lines is doubling its space to keep up with the massive U.S.-China trade, which reached $133 billion in 2011.

"What I see here is a good foundation for U.S.-China economic and trade cooperation," Xi said through a translator.

California Gov. Jerry Brown said the state is a national leader in green technology, telling Xi, "We're more advanced than Washington in terms of renewable energy."

The port is the busiest and most environmentally friendly in the nation, officials said, in part because China Shipping requires its vessels to plug into electric power sources instead of burning fuel while docked.

The environment has traditionally been neglected in China, with only 1 percent of the country's 560 million urban inhabitants breathing air deemed safe by the European Union in 2007 and 400,000 people dying of pollution-related diseases each year.

But air quality is improving, Chinese officials say. Beijing, for example, is said to have experienced 286 "blue sky" days in 2011, a statistic The New York Times said was belied by heavy smog smothering the city for much of the year.

China is "one of a few countries" rapidly increasing their forest cover, the World Bank reported. It is also managing to reduce air and water pollution, the bank said.

Xi -- China's presumptive next president -- was to speak about U.S.-China trade and investment at the China-U.S. Economic Trade Forum at the L.A. Live entertainment complex at 9 a.m. PST Friday, officials said.

He was expected to announce a deal with DreamWorks Animation SKG Inc. to build and operate a studio in Shanghai with two state-owned Chinese media companies, the Christian Science Monitor reported.

DreamWorks Animation's feature films include "Kung Fu Panda" -- a fact that frustrated the Chinese because Hollywood, rather than Beijing, came up with the idea, U.S.-China Institute Associate Director Clayton Dube told the Monitor.

"They said: 'Hey, kung fu is ours, pandas are ours. Why can't we do that?'" he said.

Los Angeles also planned to announce expanded tourism and trade with China, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa's office said.

Xi was to visit a Los Angeles school with U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, attend a luncheon in his honor with Brown, participate in a U.S. and Chinese governors roundtable hosted by Brown and attend at least the second half of a Los Angeles Lakers basketball game against the Phoenix Suns at Staples Center, officials said.

"He's a Kobe fan," Villaraigosa told reporters, referring to Lakers superstar Kobe Bryant.

And the Lakers are a Chinese favorite, Dube told the Monitor.

"Xi will be a very popular man all over China for having gone to see them, live, on their home court," he said.

Xi was to leave Los Angeles for Ireland around 10 p.m., his schedule indicated.

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