LA business leaders roll out red carpet for Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping

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The next president of China, Xi Jinping, is making his way to Southern California for a two-day visit. Business leaders here are rolling out the welcome mat.

Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping is expected to tour the Port of Los Angeles, where the China Shipping Company is doubling the size of its terminal. It's a natural stop since China is the largest U.S. import and export partner, and the ports are the first to cash in.

"The impressions Xi gets out of this friendly welcoming will do a lot towards growing our economy, getting back some of the money we’ve sent to China, back into investment," said Vance Baugham, president of the World Trade Center of Los Angeles and Long Beach.

Baugham spoke to KPCC at the release of the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corporation's economic forecast. The release took place at the Los Angeles Marriott downtown, which is owned by China-based Shenzhen New World Investments.

Electric vehicle maker BYD opened its first U.S. headquarters in Los Angeles. Baugham says a lot of California businesses are eying China’s emerging consumer economy.

"China, you’re gonna see as it grows in its affluence, it’s gonna be a great market for the California lifestyle, entertainment industry, fashion, you name it," Baugham said.

Sung Won Sohn teaches economics at Cal State Channel Islands and is vice chairman of the clothing retailer Forever 21. He's also a commissioner of the Port of Los Angeles.

"For every billion dollars that we export to China, we could be creating about 20,000 jobs in the United States," Sohn said.

He says there's another big reason the Chinese need to like the U.S.: we owe them more than a trillion dollars.

"They are our biggest lender," Sohn said. "Without China lending money to us, our financial markets would be in trouble, so I think it’s important to have a good relationship with China."

Xi Jinping’s visit is all about relationships. K.Y. Cheng, an executive at East West Bank, knows there’s tension between the U.S. and China.

"There is a debate going on," said Cheng. "If the currency is properly valued, whether the trade balances between the two countries can be further enhanced, which I think it can."

Visits like this one will help, said Cheng. During his own trade mission to Asia, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa invited the Chinese vice president to visit Los Angeles. Los Angeles is one of only three stops Xi will make in the U.S.

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