In other news of the visit, differences on Internet policy emerged at a forum in Redmond with China's cyberczar. Meanwhile, Boeing announced orders and commitments for 300 jets from Chinese companies as China’s President Xi Jinping visited Boeing’s Everett factory.
Update – 8:40 p.m.
Traffic settles after Xi’s motorcade travels region; China’s leader flies to D.C. in morning
Chinese President Xi Jinping returned to Westin Seattle Hotel Wednesday night after a whirlwind of activities throughout the region, including at Boeing, Microsoft and Tacoma’s Lincoln High. Rolling road closures during rush hour snarled traffic, leading some commuters to take to social media to express their frustration at the leader’s motorcade. But by about 7:45 p.m., Seattle’s Department of Transportation reported most backups to have cleared.
Xi will fly from Paine Field to Washington, D.C., Thursday morning.
Update – 5:40 p.m.
Xi presented with Lincoln High custom jersey; invites 100 students to China
Lincoln High football players presented Chinese President Xi Jinping with a custom No. 1 Lincoln Abes jersey during his visit to the Tacoma school. Xi’s contingent gathered with students in the school’s auditorium.
He then invited 100 Lincoln students to visit China next year. Xi also brought both books and ping-pong balls and tables as gifts.
Update – 4:45 p.m.
Highway closures snarl rush-hour traffic as Xi’s on the move
Authorities closed large swaths of Interstates 5 and 405 Wednesday afternoon as Chinese President Xi Jinping made his way from Microsoft’s Redmond campus to a Tacoma high school. Backups stretched for miles on SB I-5.
After sitting in a standstill to get on 1-405 for an hour, commuter Jason Neal hopped on I-90 around 4:40 p.m. for an alternative way home from his work in Bellevue.
He said he takes the southbound interstate every day after work to reach his home in Tacoma, and he’s hardly ever experienced a jam like Wednesday’s.
Frustrated, Neal said he felt the traffic congestion was a product of poor planning, and he did not realize the president’s route would create such a backup. A helicopter for Xi’s commutes, Neal said, could’ve eased the burden on commuters.
Update – 4:55 p.m.
Top tech executives gather with Xi in Redmond
Top tech executives, including Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, Amazon’s Jeff Bezos and Apple’s Tim Cook, joined Chinese President Xi Jinping at Microsoft’s Redmond campus Wednesday afternoon at the conclusion of the U.S.-China Internet Industry Forum here.
Xi told the gathered U.S. and Chinese technology executives that the country would prioritize a secure Internet, and defended the rights of countries to impose their own regulations on domestic Internet development.
“A secure, stable and prosperous cyberspace is of great significance” to the world, Xi said. The U.S. and China must work toward that goal together, he said. The two sides “should carry out constructive dialogue,” he said.
Xi added that countries should formulate their domestic Internet policies “in line with their national realities.”
China has been widely criticized in the West for censorship of news and social networking sites and other restrictions. Among the banned U.S. sites is Facebook, whose chief executive Mark Zuckerberg appeared to speak with Xi in Mandarin just before the group photo.
Xi was greeted to Microsoft’s Redmond campus by officials including co-founder Bill Gates, Chief Executive Satya Nadella, Chairman John Thompson and President Brad Smith.
Other execs at the forum included Chinese internet czar Lu Wei and IBM’s Ginni Rometty, as well as representatives of Cisco, Intel, top global PC maker Lenovo, LinkedIn, and chip maker Qualcomm.
After his remarks, Xi left for a tour of Microsoft’s executive briefing center, receiving a demonstration of Microsoft’s in-development HoloLens holographic headset.
Microsoft is “the pace setter” for the global technology sector, Xi said, highlighting Microsoft’s 40-year lifespan and the Windows operating system that has “shaped man’s cognition of computer technologies.”
Xi said he was impressed by the company’s tree-lined campus and its blending “of man and nature.”
Protesters gather at Tacoma high school
A couple hundred protesters lined the street corners outside Lincoln High School in Tacoma Wednesday ahead of Xi’s scheduled visit later this afternoon.
They included practitioners of the Falun Gong religious movement and Vietnamese protesters.
“I came here today for denouncing his visit,” said Phiet Nguyen of Lacey.
Vietnamese protesters expressed concern with, among other things, China’s maritime claims in the region.
Protesters waved signs such as “Stop Red China’s Violations” and chanted “Down with Red China.”
Xi endorses theme parks, among other things
Addressing the Paulson Institute roundtable of 30 high-powered U.S. and Chinese CEOs this morning, Chinese President Xi Jinping assured them that “the long-term positive trend of the Chinese economy will not change.”
Xi also got in a little personal tidbit as he encouraged American companies to open locations in China. He said that when Disney was proposing building a theme park in Shanghai, “for myself, I voted yes for Disney.”
He had visited Disney theme parks in Tokyo and in Orlando, Fla., he said, and concluded that China needs a culturally diverse entertainment market.
12 p.m. The split between U.S. and Chinese interests on the Internet was on display Wednesday at a forum of government and business leaders hosted by Microsoft.
U.S. government and trade group officials emphasized, politely, their view of the the necessity of a free and open internet, and highlighted worries that new Chinese regulations will put U.S. companies operating in the country at a disadvantage.
Their Chinese peers, including the chief of the state internet regulator, emphasized cooperation and understanding, sharing the common refrain of Chinese leaders that the country’s distinct history and level of economic development means the U.S. shouldn’t expect it to adopt the same policies toward the web.
The speeches kicked off the U.S.-China Internet Industry Forum, an annual event bringing together leaders from business and government from the two countries. The event coincides with Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visit to Washington. Xi is expected to take a brief tour Microsoft’s campus with Chief Executive Satya Nadella Wednesday afternoon.
Lu Wei, the chief of China’s internet policy, echoed the comments Xi made in a speech Tuesday night, pledging China’s cooperation on cybersecurity and emphasizing the necessity of cooperation between the two countries.
“We have to trust each other,” Lu said. “We have to solve our problems through development. We have to dissolve our differences through cooperation.”
Big deals at Boeing as Xi visits Everett plant
Boeing announced Wednesday orders and commitments for 300 jets from Chinese companies as Chinese President Xi Jinping addressed about 600 Boeing employees inside an assembly bay at the Everett factory, with an Air China 737 and a Xiamen Air 787 as his backdrop.
The 250 single-aisle 737s and 50 widebody jets carry a list price of about $38 billion. After standard industry discounts, the actual value is typically about half that.
Boeing said Chinese leasing companies ICBC and CDB will take 60 single-aisle 737s, while another 190 737s are divided among China’s airlines. The company did not break down the types of widebodies ordered.
A source with knowledge of the sales deal said that while some of the 300 jets are orders previously booked but not identified, some are incremental commitments that would be finalized in the coming months.
Li Hai, president of China aviation supplies holding company said “these additional airplanes will further help connect the people in China and around the world.
The company also is expected to announce today it will establish a 737 jet completion and delivery center in China, as previously reported. The 737 completion work — installing interiors and painting the planes — is done today in Renton and at Boeing Field, and advance reports of the deal prompted the Machinists union to plan protests Wednesday.
At the factory, worker reaction to the China completion center deal varied.
Bette German, 57, a Machinist who installs electrical wiring on the 767 and has 10 years at Boeing: “I never like to see the work go somewhere else. But it seems Renton has a lot to do without that work… I’m hoping.”
Steve Hunt, 60, a 747 inspector on final assembly and a Machinist with almost 30 years at Boeing, grimaced when asked about the work going to China, then said: “I think we’re making a mistake giving up manufacturing jobs in the U.S., but I understand the business reality. You got to do what you got to do.”
Tri Tran, 33, an engineer working on new development programs with 7 years at Boeing, said “it’s a great opportunity for Boeing to meet the market demand for China. It’ll be our biggest customer. It’s good news for Boeing’s profitability and growth.”
Aaron Billings, 41, a mechanic with 4 years at Boeing, said “I understand it from a business standpoint. It makes sense to me. I’m sure it’s an economic thing.”
Xi has business all over the region today
China’s President Xi Jinping starts Wednesday with an appearance around 10 a.m. at a roundtable meeting of 30 U.S. and Chinese CEOs organized by the Paulson Institute, a Chicago-based nonpartisan center founded by former U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson that will focus on sustainable economic growth in the U.S. and China.
Xi will then head to Boeing’s Everett factory, where orders from Chinese companies for 300 jets are expected to be formally announced. The company is also expected to unveil a plan for establishing a 737 completion center in China, where planes sold to the nation’s airlines will be outfitted with interiors and painted. A demonstration against that plan has been called by the Machinists union for 1 p.m. outside the Renton plant where 737s are assembled.
The Chinese president will visit the Microsoft campus in Redmond next. He’s expected to have a tour, and may drop in on the annual U.S.-China Internet Industry Forum taking place there. Lu Wei, who oversees China’s Internet policies and cybersecurity, is among the participants.
Tacoma’s Lincoln High School is Xi’s final public appearance Wednesday. He first saw Tacoma more than 20 years ago when visiting the U.S. as a provincial official.
All this movement around the region could mean freeway closures along key corridors at various points throughout the day.
Wednesday evening Xi will host a private reception for invited members of the Chinese community on the West Coast.
He leaves Thursday morning for his first state visit to the nation’s capital, and then will head to New York for events at the United Nations.