Chinese prez focuses on business with Chicago

China's President Hu Jintao arrives at O'Hare International Airport, Thursday, Jan. 20, 2011 in Chicago. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast) (ABC7's Ben Bradley)

January 20, 2011 8:45:08 PM PST
Chinese President Hu Jintao arrived Thursday afternoon for his first visit to Chicago. It's his only stop outside Washington during his U.S. visit.

Mayor Daley has visited China four times in the last six years. He hopes Hu's presence in the city gives Chicago something akin to most favored nation trade status when it comes to doing business with U.S. cities.

The heads of Boeing, JP Morgan Chase, Motorola and others met with President Hu. They all underscored their current business connections to China and their hope for more opportunities.

But it is Mayor Daley's longevity that caught the attention of the general secretary of the Communist Party of China.

"I've noticed that you've served 22 years as the mayor of this city making you the most senior mayor in ranking in America," said President Hu through a translator.

At dinner, 300 guests heard Mayor Daley call China's leader a "visionary" and say his country was vital to the economic success of the United States.

"Our long range goal is to make Chicago the most China-friendly city in the United States," Daley said.

President Hu told his audience China should be viewed as a job creator, not a job killer, by US citizens.

"The 12 Midwestern states have seen their exports to China increase by a big margin ranging from 180 percent to 800 percent," said Hu through a translator.

Crowds supportive of the Chinese government - largely filled by Chinese students studying here - were larger than groups demonstrating against China's policies on human rights, trade and other issues. Still, those protesting hope their visibility is raised.

"We hope persecution will end soon, not with the help of Hu Jintao, with the help of people around the world," said Sen Yang, Falun Gong supporter.

On Wednesday in Washington, Mayor Daley told ABC 7's Charles Thomas those who want change in China should cheer visits like this.

"I think that happens all the time. When you have more exchanges with people, with students, yes you do, you change people's viewpoints," said Daley.

President Hu will wrap up his Chicago visit Friday with a stop at the Chinese-language program at Walter Payton Prep. Then he will head to west suburban Woodridge where he'll see an exhibition of Chinese companies doing business in the area.