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What California hopes to get from China

Adriene Hill Feb 14, 2012

Adriene Hill: Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping is expected to become the next leader of China. Today he’s meeting with President Obama before heading to Iowa, and then to Los Angeles.

For more about why the Golden State is on Mr. Xi’s agenda, we turn to Chris Thornberg. He’s founding partner of Beacon Economics. Good morning.

Chris Thornberg: Good morning.

Hill: So why is Mr. Xi coming to Los Angeles?

Thornberg: Well you know, the ties between California and China are at multiple levels. Obviously, China has a huge market for California products, but at the same time, you also have ongoing conflicts between China and California. For example, the rampant issues with intellectual property, and of course, the fact that China has trade barriers for many products produced in California. Ultimately, China wants to become more like California — they want to be seen more than just a place where you manufacture high-tech goods; they want to be seen as a place that creates new high-tech goods. And from that perspective, they need California’s intellectual leadership, they need to know how things are done in California.

Hill: Now, what do you think is at the top of California officials’ list? What do they want to get out of this trip?

Thornberg: You know, nothing is going to particularly come out of this conversation. This is a meet-and-greet. California officials don’t set trade policy, decisions having to do with Chinese law get done in Beijing. But if the officials come here, they have a good time, they’re treated with respect, they get to see the place — perhaps later down the line, when serious negotiations do start to take place, they’ll be, shall we say, a little more favorably inclined towards the state.

Hill: Chris Thornberg is founding partner of Beacon Economics. Thanks.

Thornberg: Anytime.

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