Chinese President Xi Jinping on Wednesday stressed the youth’s role in boosting relations between China and the United States during a visit to a high school in the U.S. port city of Tacoma.
Addressing an audience of several hundred in the Lincoln High School’s auditorium, Xi said education has a bearing on the future of a country and a nation, expressing his hope that students of the two countries would work together to build a better future for China-U.S. relations.
The president — collar open and without a tie — presented gifts to the high school’s students, including books on China, a ping-pong table, and his personal invitation to visit China.
“I hope these books could serve as a window for you to get to know China,” Xi said, while encouraging the students to walk around his country.
“Through travel, you will know China better, and hopefully you will like China,” he said in his speech, which was given standing ovations from time to time.
“Kids went wild, naturally. This is awesome,” Nate Bowling, a teacher of the Lincoln High School, said on his twitter account.
In the school’s gym, students also prepared special gifts for the president: a football and a personalized jersey bearing his name and the “No. 1” on the back.
“He is open. He talks sports with us. He is very friendly,” said Alvin Johnson, a player of the school’s football team.
Besides the gym and the auditorium, Xi and First Lady Peng Liyuan also stopped at a classroom, where students greeted him with Chinese “Ni Hao” and talked about their aspiration to tour around China.
Xi’s visit to the high school even attracted students from other schools nearby.
“We are sitting in the front row! It is amazing. I’m so impressed by the president. They (the first couple) are so nice and I got so close look,” said Caroline Dai, a student from a nearby private high school, after hearing the school’s chorus in the auditorium.
Beyond admiration, she also came with a task. “I am a journalist with our school magazine and I plan to work on a news story entitled ‘How I meet president of China’.”
This is not the president’s first visit to Tacoma. 21 years ago, he visited the city as a local governmental official in Fuzhou, China, which established a sister city relationship with Tacoma in 1994.
According to the Chinese Foreign Ministry, a major highlight of his visit will be his “extensive outreach to the American people,” as he is expected to “meet people from all walks of life” during his two-and-a-half-day stay in Seattle.
Seattle is the first leg of Xi’s first state visit to the United States. He left on Thursday for Washington D.C., where he is scheduled to meet with U.S. President Barack Obama.