Just hours after landing in Seattle for his first state visit to the U.S., Chinese President Xi Jinping gave a wide-ranging speech touching on cybersecurity, China’s economy, the “Chinese Dream,” and classic American rom-coms, impressing observers with his knowledge of American pop culture.
Speaking at the Washington State Welcoming Banquet in Seattle, the Chinese leader’s line of the night has to go to his dismissal of speculation that his infamous anti-corruption campaign has been about removing his own political enemies.
“We have punished tigers and flies. It has nothing to do with power struggles. In this case there is no House of Cards,” he said.
With notable guests like former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates and Alibaba founder Jack Ma in attendance, Xi continued to insist that his nation’s role in cyberhacking was victim, not perpetrator. He pledged to work with the U.S. to defend global cybersecurity, via SCMP:
China is a strong defender of cybersecurity but it is also a victim of hacking. China will never engage in commercial cyber theft or encourage or support anyone for doing so.
The Chinese government will not in whatever form engage in commercial theft, and hacking against government networks are crimes that must be punished in accordance with the law and relevant international treaties.
More broadly, Xi called for better relations with the U.S., in order to prevent a serious global calamity:
We want to see more understanding and trust and less estrangement and suspicion… Should they enter into conflict and confrontation, it would lead to disaster for both countries and the world at large.
Both sides must read each other’s strategic intentions correctly to avoid misjudgments and fostering a deeper understanding of each other’s agendas would help “forestall misunderstandings and miscalculations. (Our understanding) should be based on facts, lest we become victims of hearsay.
Xi also discussed the poverty that he witnessed in rural Chinese villages as a youth and how China’s incredible economic expansion was working to lift millions out of poverty. He brought up his favorite catchphrase, the “Chinese Dream,” defining it as “people’s yearning for a better life.”
Xi appears to have had quite the busy day. Just hours before his speech, he signed an agreement with U.S. officials to cooperate on helping businesses that create renewable and clean energy, the Wall Street Journal reports.
According to his itinerary, Xi will next hold talks with the CEOs of American tech giants like Apple, Microsoft and IBM and later attend a private dinner at Bill Gate’s house. On Thursday, Xi will leave for Washington D.C. for an official state visit to the White House. Later, he will attend a series of events at the United Nations in New York City.
Xi also noted that it was the 1993 romantic comedy “Sleepless in Seattle” that made Seattle a “household name” in China.
We can’t wait to see what other American pop culture references Xi has in store! Presumably nothing alluding to “The Big Bang Theory.”
Another important thing to keep on an eye is the menu at these functions and whether somebody tries to slip in a “Double Big Mac.”
Getting ready for banquet for Xi Jinping, his men put food ahead of time at his place at center of head table pic.twitter.com/UpRnufEGRY
— Jane Perlez (@JanePerlez) September 22, 2015
Baozi-free. The menu for Xi's dinner in Seattle. pic.twitter.com/x7Q4T95JDh
— Chris Buckley 储百亮 (@ChuBailiang) September 23, 2015