Chinese president leaves Trump, pays Anchorage surprise visit

Chinese President Xi Jinping and First Lady Peng Liyuan arrive in Anchorage. They were greeted by Governor Walker and Lt. Gov. Mallott.
Chinese President Xi Jinping and First Lady Peng Liyuan arrive in Anchorage. They were greeted by Governor Walker and Lt. Gov. Mallott. (Photo by Wesley Early/Alaska Public Media)

UPDATE | 10 p.m. Friday

Chinese President Xi Jinping met with Gov. Bill Walker Friday evening at the Hotel Captain Cook in downtown Anchorage. Xi made the surprise visit to Alaska on his way home from a summit with President Donald Trump in Florida.

The governor took the opportunity to tout the state’s effort to build a major natural gas pipeline from the North Slope. During a photo-op with President Xi before the meeting, Walker spoke extensively about the project.

“Alaska can provide China with a new and reliable source of LNG [liquefied natural gas], a strategic investment in the (USA and) an opportunity to participate in a regionally strategic infrastructure project,” Walker said during public remarks.

Chinese president Xi Jinping met with Alaska Gov. Bill Walker during a short visit to Anchorage on April 7, 2017. Xi stopped in Alaska on his way home from a summit with President Donald Trump in Florida.
Chinese president Xi Jinping met with Alaska Gov. Bill Walker during a short visit to Anchorage on April 7, 2017. Xi stopped in Alaska on his way home from a summit with President Donald Trump in Florida. (Photo by Elizabeth Harball/Alaska’s Energy Desk)

“This project can address the balance of trade issue, [and] provide a clean source of energy to China for a generation,” the governor added. “The project is a 20-million-ton project that can replace 50 million tons of coal.”

In his own brief remarks, Xi acknowledged Alaska as an economic partner but mainly focused on the state’s natural beauty.

“In the eyes of many of the Chinese people, Alaska is a land that brings a lot of mystery in our minds and it is a place where our people like to go – it’s like Shangri-La to us,” Xi said through an interpreter.

“The very fact that we have now been here, I believe, will serve as a good advertisement for your state,” Xi said. “I believe there might be a boom of Chinese visitors traveling to your state as tourists — I will be happy to see that if that is true.”

Neither leader took questions from the press during Friday evening’s meeting and reporters were ushered out as the Chinese president was speaking. The governor’s office has announced that Walker will hold a press conference Saturday morning to discuss the visit.

Before the meeting, Xi and his delegation drove down the Seward Highway to take in the view from Beluga Point on Turnagain Arm, south of Anchorage. Alaska State Troopers and the Anchorage Police Department closed a portion of the Seward Highway for about 30 minutes to accommodate the visit.

ORIGINAL STORY |6:50 p.m. Friday

Chinese President Xi Jinping landed in Anchorage today after meeting with President Donald Trump on Thursday at Trump’s Mar-A-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Florida.

Xi is scheduled to meet with Gov. Bill Walker this evening.

Members of the Chinese media and other passengers deplane from President Xi Jinping’s plane. (Photo by Wesley Early, Alaska Public Media – Anchorage)
Members of the Chinese media and other passengers deplane from President Xi Jinping’s plane. (Photo by Wesley Early/ Alaska Public Media)

Xi was accompanied by his wife, Peng Liyuan, and greeted at Ted Stevens International Airport by the governor and First Lady Donna Walker, along with Lt. Gov. Byron Mallott and his wife Toni.

The Chinese government informed Walker that Xi would be stopping in Anchorage about a month ago, and requested a meeting, the governor’s office said.

“China is one of our largest trading partners, and I am eager to tell President Xi about the abundance of Alaska’s resource development opportunities,” Walker said in a press release. “We have tremendous potential in our oil and gas, tourism, fish, air cargo and mineral resource industries.”

Walker and Xi will hold their meeting at the Hotel Captain Cook in downtown Anchorage.

Check back for more – this story will be updated.

Alaska Public Media

Alaska Public Media is our partner station in Anchorage. KTOO collaborates with partners across the state to cover important news and to share stories with our audiences.

Like what you just read? KTOO news stories are member supported. Support your community news source today. Donate to KTOO.
Site notifications
Update notification options
Subscribe to notifications