by Staff Writers
Washington (AFP) Feb 14, 2012
China's likely next leader Xi Jinping on Tuesday invited President Barack Obama and his wife Michelle to visit his country, during Oval Office talks on Tuesday.
The White House did not say whether Obama would make such a visit, though he seems unlikely to travel to China this year as he plans only limited foreign trips ahead of his fight for reelection in November, while China's power elite is also taken up by a political transition.
Obama's spokesman revealed the invitation and said that the talks between the US leader and Xi, who is visiting at the invitation of Vice President Joe Biden, went on for 85 minutes, longer than expected.
"The president said afterwards that the reason he was taking the extra time was because of the importance of the relationship and cooperation in dealing with the range of challenges that our two countries face together," Carney said.
"At the end of the meeting, Vice President Xi invited President Obama and the first lady to China."
Basketball-loving Chinese VP may see Lakers
President Barack Obama, himself also known for his love of basketball, bonded with China's vice president about hoops as he received him in the Oval Office on Tuesday.
"I understand you're also going to be going to Los Angeles and maybe even taking in a Lakers game. So I hope you enjoy that very much," Obama said.
Xi's long-rumored appearance at the game would likely be alongside Vice President Joe Biden, whose office has announced that he will join the Chinese vice president in Los Angeles.
In a recent written interview with The Washington Post, Xi said that NBA games "are exciting to watch and have global appeal."
"They are very popular in China. I do watch NBA games on television when I have time," he said.
Xi will be in Los Angeles on Friday, when the Lakers take on the Phoenix Suns at the Staples Center.
The Wall Street Journal earlier reported that Xi had personally told Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner that he wanted to see the Los Angeles Clippers, but that his schedule only allowed him to see the Lakers.
Basketball is one of the most popular sports in China, with wide viewership for NBA games involving stars of Chinese origin including New York Knicks guard Jeremy Lin, who has caused a sensation since his start.
Chinese fans began tuning in to NBA games in large numbers a decade ago when Yao Ming, a seven-foot six (2.29 meter) phenomenon, joined the Houston Rockets and went on to become the most successful Chinese player in league history.
Xi, who is expected to take over next year as president, is hoping to use public appearances to win goodwill in the United States and perhaps soften his image for television viewers in China, according to experts.
Xi will also visit the Midwestern state of Iowa to reunite with people he met on a first visit to the United States in 1985 when he was a low-ranking official.
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Obama to take pulse of China leader-in-waiting
Washington (AFP) Feb 13, 2012
China's Vice President Xi Jinping will Tuesday meet US President Barack Obama in a key early test for Washington's relations with the man on course to lead the Asian power for the next decade. Xi will start a week-long visit with a welcome at the White House and talks with Obama and other top US officials, who are eager to get off to the right start with a leader whose views remain opaque. ... read more
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