Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping (習近平), the country’s likely next leader, declared his US visit a “full success” on Friday as he ended it in Hollywood — and as Washington said he agreed to let more US films into China’s vast market.
Xi, who attended a farewell basketball game in Los Angeles, made the comments in the final hours of his five-day trip, which started with power talks in Washington and included a charm offensive trip to the US’ heartland.
“I can now say my visit to the United States has been a full success,” Xi said in a visit to an LA school with US Vice President Joe Biden, adding that his meetings with Biden and US President Barack Obama had been “very fruitful.”
Echoing the warm remarks, Biden — who visited China last year — joked: “I envy a lot of things about him, starting with his full head of hair. And I admire his stamina. We have given him virtually no time to sleep.”
However, Biden also reiterated a key message Xi has heard this week — that the US wants Beijing to play by the same “rules of the game” to reduce the enormous trade imbalance between the two heavyweights.
“We very much want to see more of our business in China and Vice President Xi has committed to making that possible,” he said, adding: “The faster the US economy grows, the more Chinese citizens will benefit.”
Shortly before Xi’s scheduled departure, Biden announced that China had agreed to “significantly” increase market access to US movies as part of outstanding issues following a WTO dispute.
According to the Motion Picture Association, the deal will allow more than 50 percent more US movies into China, However, Biden did not put numbers on the increase, according to a White House statement.
A Chinese quota system restricts the number of foreign movies coming into the country annually to 20. In 2009, the WTO ruled against Chinese limits on the import of films, DVDs, music and books, but little has changed.
“This agreement with China will make it easier than ever before for US studios and independent filmmakers to reach the fast-growing Chinese audience, supporting thousands of American jobs,” Biden said.
There was no immediate Chinese reaction to the White House statement, but Xi hailed Biden earlier in the day, saying: “We have established a good personal friendship and working relationship.”
A string of deals were signed in the sidelines of Xi’s visit, including one on Friday by Kung Fu Panda US studio giant DreamWorks Animation for a US$330 million Chinese joint venture, Oriental DreamWorks.
The tie-up, unveiled by DreamWorks Animation boss Jeffrey Katzenberg, will team his -California-based studio with three Chinese companies — who will hold a majority 55 percent stake — to operate a studio in Shanghai. Katzenberg said a short time afterward that Oriental DreamWorks’ first film was expected to be released in 2016.
The developments came as Xi rounded off a US trip that included a meeting at the White House with Obama, who urged China to play by the “same rules” in the global economy, but voiced hope for cooperation.
Xi then traveled to Iowa, where a business delegation accompanying him agreed to buy 317 million bushels of soybeans from major US companies, in a deal estimated to be worth US$4.3 billion.
On Friday, he spent his final hours on US soil at an economic forum in downtown Los Angeles, before a National Basketball Association game between the LA Lakers and the Phoenix Suns at the Staples Center.