Xi Pays Surprise Visit to Alaska

He saw the sights, talked trade with Gov. Walker
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 8, 2017 6:35 AM CDT
The plane carrying Chinese President Xi Jinping taxies to a stop with the snow-capped Chugach Mountains providing a backdrop Friday, April 7, 2017, in Anchorage, Alaska.   (AP Photo/Mark Thiessen)
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(Newser) – China's President Xi Jinping followed up what President Trump called a "tremendous" summit with a look at some of Alaska's tremendous views. Xi made a surprise stop in Anchorage late Friday on his way back to Beijing from the US. The leader and his entourage went from the airport to the scenic lookout at Beluga Point before heading to Anchorage for a seafood dinner and a meeting with Gov. Bill Walker, reports the Alaska Dispatch News, which notes that while it is not unusual for planes carrying Asian heads of state to refuel in Anchorage, it is rare for a leader to leave the airport and spent several hours in the city. Walker's office says the meeting was set up last month, but Chinese officials wanted it kept quiet until Xi arrived.

China is Alaska's top export market and the visit was seen as an indication of the scale of China's resource ambitions in the region, reports the Los Angeles Times. Fish accounted for more than half of the state's $1.2 billion in exports to China last year, the AP notes, and Walker reportedly told Xi that Alaska could supply his country with "a generation's worth" of liquefied natural gas. A Walker spokeswoman says Xi wanted to visit Alaska after flying over it many times. "He called it a mythical, almost mystical place for the Chinese, like a Shangri-La," the spokeswoman says. (Read more Xi Jinping stories.)

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