Chinese VP's last day in US: business, school kids and an NBA game

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Story highlights

  • Xi Jinping addresses students alongside U.S. Vice President Joe Biden
  • "I can now say my visit ... has been a full success," he says
  • Xi is expected to become president of China next year
  • He has been in the United States since Monday, meeting officials and ordinary Americans
Xi Jinping, China's presumptive leader, is wrapping up his five-day visit to the United States on Friday, meeting with U.S. Vice President Joe Biden and even squeezing in an NBA game.
During the past few days, Vice President Xi has met with a variety of Americans, from President Barack Obama and congressional leaders in Washington to Iowa farmers.
In talks with U.S. officials, Xi, who is expected to become president of China next year, has focused issues like trade, investment and agriculture.
His trip has also been punctuated by rights activists holding demonstrations in the vicinity of his official engagements. They have raised sensitive subjects that Chinese authorities generally prefer to play down, like China's treatment of its restive Tibetan population.
On Friday, Xi and Biden visited a school focused on foreign language and culture, where the two leaders addressed a class of students studying Mandarin.
"Besides learning about the language, I hope you can learn about the culture. Because there are some cultural differences between the U.S. and China," Xi said.
The Chinese leader told the students his meetings this week with Biden and Obama have been "very fruitful."
"I can now say my visit to the United States has been a full success," he said.
On the occasion of Xi's visit, California Gov. Jerry Brown announced plans to open a new trade and investment office in China.
Xi arrived in Los Angeles on Thursday after leaving Iowa. Brown and Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa greeted him.
The group visited the port of Los Angeles, the busiest by volume in the United States, underling the importance of trade between California and China, which amounted to nearly $150 billion last year.
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Despite the feverish attention directed at the New York Knicks' Asian-American star Jeremy Lin, Xi will be watching Kobe Bryant's Los Angeles Lakers on Friday night, according to Villaraigosa.
"I said, 'Look, we've got to work hard, but you've got to come and see the Lakers. They're America's team,' " the mayor said.
"He's a Kobe fan and Laker fan, so it all works," Villaraigosa said with a smile.
Xi's engagements on the West Coast come after talks with Obama on Tuesday in which the U.S. president set a firm tone for future relations between the two world powers.
At the Oval Office meeting, Obama said that with China's meteoric rise as an economic powerhouse came a responsibility to ensure balanced trade flows, referring to China's trade surpluses.
The president also raised the delicate issue of human rights as a critical area of concern for the United States.
Xi's choreographed trip to Washington was meant to burnish his credentials and provide his American counterparts a chance to size him up. President Hu Jintao made a similar visit 10 years ago as he was being groomed for China's top job.
At a U.S.-China Business Council event in Washington on Wednesday, Xi said relations between the two world powers were "at a new historical starting point at this second decade of the 21st century."
"We need to make important efforts toward mutual understanding and strategic trust," Xi said. He defended Chinese economic policies that have been labeled as unfair by the U.S. government.
Later Wednesday, he moved from talking about the future to re-engaging with his past.
As a young Hebei province official in 1985, Xi led a delegation to the heartland state of Iowa so that the Chinese could learn about agricultural practices. On that trip, he stayed in an ordinary American home and made friends with people who were as different from him as the ideologies that separated their nations.
He never forgot the hospitality and made it a point to take time on his five-day tour of the United States to stop in Muscatine, Iowa a small city of fewer than 25,000 people.