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A ceremony that excites, encourages and entices


Updated: 2015-09-26 14:10:26


Naureen Singh never knew her internship this summer would lead to meeting Chinese President Xi Jinping.

As a participant in the Young Ambassadors Program of the White House's Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, Singh was among the 300 or so guests to greet Xi with US President Barack Obama in the official welcoming ceremony at White House on Friday morning.

"It's definitely a historic day to witness, especially considering that I am not from DC and is not big ambassador or anything," said Singh, now a student at the University of Colorado in Boulder. Singh's summer work at the White House included engaging with Chinese Americans.

Her fellow intern, Saba Nafees, who also attended the ceremony, shared her excitement.

"It's very interesting to see the two presidents greeting each other. It is beautiful to see that relationship," said Nafees, who is a PhD student at Texas Tech University and vice-president of the campus' student government.

Other than the 21-gun salute, two radiant first ladies, the ceremonial parade and jubilant children reaching for Xi and Obama's hands, Nafees also remembers very well the two presidents' words.

"Like President Obama said, all eyes and hopes are upon us, and we must do something, it's really important that big countries like US and China work together to figure out what are the biggest issues around their countries and help each other move forward."

"And, just like the Chinese President said, we've done good things on our own, but when we put our forces together we can do even more. I think they should look at all the developmental issues together around the world."

Wade Randlett, CEO of General Biofuels, a company that specializes in developing bio-energy production facilities internationally, also attended the ceremony and the words on economic perspective resonated with him.

"I am glad to see the Chinese president emphasizing economic collaboration in his speech. The more trade we can do together, the easier it is for both sides to understand each other because trade needs people working together toward common interest rather than competing with each other." said Randlett, who flew from San Francisco to attend the ceremony and the state dinner on Friday night.

Randlett's wife happens to be a Chinese American, so he, in particular, can feel the excitement of the Chinese-American community in the US.

"I know the whole Chinese-American community is very excited about the Chinese delegation being here and the kind of attention paid to the bilateral relationship," he said.

A good number of the guests at the welcoming ceremony were indeed Chinese Americans. Yaohui Wang, a senior researcher at the US National Institutes of Health, led a dozen Chinese community leaders to the ceremony.

"The visit made us so proud. China is on its path to prosperity. We Chinese Americans shall try our best to promote the understanding and collaboration between the two countries," said Wang, who also serves as the principal of a well-established weekend school chain that teaches Chinese language and cultural heritage in the greater Washington area.

The excitement of Xi's visit also extends beyond the White House. Hundreds of Chinese Americans and Chinese students who are studying in the US waited outside to showcase their deep connection with their motherland.

Lindzy Wang, vice-president of the American Chinese Economic and Cultural Exchange Association, got up at dawn and drove two and a half hours to the White House. Dressed in Cheongsam, a Chinese straight and slim-fit clothe for women, Wang said, "We want President Xi to see Chinese traditions are being practiced in Washington."

The excitement also was contagious to some Americans. Julia Johnson, who had traveled in China, came to showcase her support for Xi's visit from her home a dozen miles from the capital.

"I've been to several cities in China. Beijing was particularly clean when I visited the Forbidden City and the Summer Palace," said Johnson, whose brother is an architect and helped to design part of the China Pavilion during the Shanghai Expo in 2010. Johnson said she has maintained a strong desire to know more about China. She learned about Xi's visit agenda from a local newspaper and watched the live welcoming ceremony.

Hu Yongqi and Pan Jialiang contributed to the story.