Chinese President Xi Jinping kicked off his first state visit to the United States in West Coast city Seattle on Tuesday, a landmark trip aimed at building up trust and stepping up cooperation between the world's two biggest economies.
Xi is scheduled to meet government and business leaders, visit school teachers and students, and deliver a speech on China-U.S. relations during his stay in Seattle, a world-known technology and aviation hub.
The city and its neighboring areas are home to Microsoft and Boeing's main airplane assembly plants. A major gateway for trade with Asia, Seattle and the broader Washington state have long enjoyed robust economic links and close people-to-people ties with China.
Seattle is a sister city of the southwestern Chinese metropolitan of Chongqing. Nicknamed "The Emerald City," Seattle hosted Chinese leaders Deng Xiaoping, Jiang Zemin and Hu Jintao over the past several decades.
Before the closely watched state visit ends on Sept. 25, U.S. President Barack Obama is to host Xi at the White House in Washington, D.C..
The two leaders are expected to discuss an array of topics ranging from building a new type of major-country relationship to climate change and hotspot issues around the world.
The Chinese president will be in New York from Sept. 26 to 28 for a series of summits and meetings marking the 70th anniversary of the founding of the United Nations.
This is Xi's seventh trip to the United States since 1985, when he led a five-member agricultural delegation to Muscatine, Iowa. His last visit took place in Sunnylands, California, in 2013. Despite different views on some issues between the world's largest developing country and largest developed one, China and the United States have witnessed strong economic and people-to-people engagement, with the two sides having become each other's second largest trading partner.
Two-way trade between the two countries grew to an all-time high of 555 billion U.S. dollars in 2014, and bilateral investment had surpassed 120 billion dollars by the end of last year.
It is estimated that by 2022, China and the United States will become each other's biggest trading partner. In people-to-people exchanges, the two countries have established 43 pairs of sister provinces/states and 200 pairs of sister cities.
Last year, about 4.3 million mutual visits were made across the Pacific Ocean, and there is a flight between the two countries every 17 minutes.