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Wide-ranging speech resonates with listeners

By Chen Weihua and Charlene Cai in Washington and Amyhe in New York (China Daily)

Updated: 2015-09-25 08:02:22


President Xi Jinping's speech in Seattle on Tuesday was widely applauded by opinion leaders in the United States.

Cheng Li, director of the Brookings Institution's John L. Thornton China Center, said it was an excellent speech that addressed all the issues of concern to a US audience.

Xi's speech covered a wide range of issues, from China's relations with the US and cybersecurity to the economic situation and global challenges.

"Addressing all these issues is very important because the audience is very, very sophisticated. They have concerns and worries," Li said.

"It was a brilliant use of China's situation and his understanding of American society," said Li, referring to Xi's frequent quotes of Mark Twain, Ernest Hemingway and Martin Luther King.

Li, who was in the audience on Tuesday, said the confidence Xi demonstrated was very impressive, contagious. It influenced the people in the audience, "making them more confident about China's economic reforms and the Chinese leadership's determination to continue to improve and open China's markets".

Li chatted with many people, mainly businessmen and former US government officials, after Xi's speech. "They all thought it was an excellent speech. That's really quite significant. I think this is the most well-received speech by far," he said, recalling some previous Chinese leaders' speeches he had attended.

Don Bonker, a former US congressman from Washington state, also attended the event on Tuesday evening in Seattle. He said the speech was well-organized and resonated well.

"Overall, President Xi gave a statesmanlike presentation with personal touches, emphasizing the right issues and laying the groundwork for his Washington DC visit. In Seattle, it was mostly about investment and trade; in the other Washington, it's more about policy and politics," he said.

Former Australian prime minister Kevin Rudd, now president of the Asia Society Policy Institute, called Xi's speech in Seattle a "remarkable" one that reflected "a conciliatory embrace of the American people and its tradition".

"What I find quite remarkable about the speech is, rather than what we've often seen from Chinese political leaders in the past, who preferred to speak in lofty generalities about the world as it might be in a utopian future full of peace, development and enlightenment. This was very much a nuts-and-bolts speech about things that are currently irritating the relationship. And he's demonstrating to the people of America that he understands that," Rudd said.

Contact the writers through chenweihua@chinadaily.com.cn

(China Daily 09/25/2015 page2)