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Xi's US state visit has a down home feel

By Wu Jiao in Seattle (China Daily USA) Updated: 2015-09-24 14:31

Although President Xi Jinping is on his first state visit to the United Staes, there is a prevailing impression that the trip is a reunion with old friends.

Shared memories between the president and different regions of the US have been woven throughout the visit and have given the formal visit a more personal touch.

For instance, Xi choose to stop at a local public school, Lincoln High in Tacoma, Washington, compared with the trips to fancy universities that his predecessors made during their US visits.

It was a nostalgic return visit to Tacoma, a city that he visited in 1993 when he was an official in Fuzhou in East China's Fujian province. The two cities became sister cities in 1994.

When Xi visited Microsoft headquarters in Redmond on Wednesday afternoon, technicians showed him the latest 3-D analytical model on US tornadoes of the past 40 years, using an example of Iowa in 1985 to illustrate.

Xi has a long connection with Muscatine, Iowa, a town along the Mississippi River that he visited in May 1985 as an official from Hebei province.

He returned there in 2012 and had a reunion with his hosts of 27 years ago, shortly before he became the leader of the world's second-largest economy.

And when he visited Boeing on Wednesday morning, he boarded a Boeing 747 jet that soon will be submitted to China's Xiamen Airlines. Xi helped found the municipal airline when he was the deputy vice-mayor of the coastal city and oversaw the airline's formation.

Xi is a leader who has worked in China's remote inland and advanced coastal regions, His life experiences, including a period as a starving youth, which he mentioned several times during his current US trip, have given him a firm yet open mind.

He told the Lincoln students that even when he was working as a peasant in a small village in his youth, he walked tens of miles to borrow books to read. And at that time, he had read many books by foreign authors. He is open to experiencing different cultures.

As he mentioned in a Tuesday night speech about Ernest Hemingway's The Old Man and the Sea, the president said he was impressed by the description of "driving rain, roaring waves, the small boat, the old man and the sharks," so on his visit to Cuba he visited Cojimar, the fishing village near Havana that inspired the book. On the second trip, Xi sampled a mojito, a favorite drink of Hemingway's.

"It is always important to get a deep understanding of the cultures and civilizations that are different from ours," Xi said.

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