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Xi Jinping In Los Angeles: 'Free Tibet' Protestors Greet Future Chinese President (PHOTOS)

Xi Jinping Los Angeles

The Huffington Post   First Posted: 02/17/2012 5:27 pm Updated: 02/17/2012 6:39 pm

The U.S.'s conflict between wanting jobs and prosperity from China and not wanting to condone the country's human rights violations shone brightly in Los Angeles Thursday, the last stop of Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping's five-day visit to the U.S.

Xi said Thursday, "A prosperous and stable China will not be a threat to any country. It will only be a positive force for world peace and development."

Meanwhile, demonstrators protested his visit to the city, carrying signs that read, "China free the prisoners now," "China use dialogue not guns" and "Stop the genocide in Tibet." Activists also demonstrated at the vice president's first two U.S. stops, Washington D.C. and Iowa, earlier this week.

Even so, it was clear that politicians in Los Angeles, which has greatly benefited from trade and jobs due to its Pacific Rim position, were eager to form a relationship with the man who is expected to become president of China next year. Vice President Joe Biden, Gov. Jerry Brown and Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa each courted Xi during his Los Angeles visit.

Vice President Biden announced plans to open a new trade and investment office in China, and Xi visited the port of Los Angeles, which receives nearly 60 percent of its imports from China. The Chinese Vice President said that Chinese imports have improved the American standard of living and created more than 3 million new American jobs from 2001 to 2010, the Associated Press reports.

Xi and Biden also visited a Los Angeles school that specializes in Asian studies, which Biden lauded as in line with the White House's effort to have at least 100,000 American students study in China.

The visit coincides with Human Rights Watch posting Thursday that several hundred Tibetans may have been arrested after returning from studies with the Dalai Lama in India. Sources say the arrestees are being forced to attend patriotic, political re-education classes.

Xi's visit also comes just two days after a 19-year-old Tibetan set fire to himself in defiance of Chinese oppression. Eleven Tibetans did the same in January 2012 and twenty-four total have set fire to themselves since 2009, according to The Tibet Post.

Although the Obama administration made clear its desire for China to relax its tyranny over Tibet, protestors say it's not enough.

As one protestor in Iowa said this week, "The values Americans cherish most - human rights, democracy, and freedom are not just a ‘federal government responsibility' but the moral and civic responsibility of every elected official."


PHOTOS: Demonstrators protest Xi's visit to Los Angeles Thursday:

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Pro-Tibet supporters protest outside the China Mart offices in Los Angeles on Thursday, Feb. 16, 2012. The group was demonstrating against the Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping's visit to the United States. Xi Jinping's visit to Los Angeles will be a reminder of his country's big footprint at the busiest port in the United States. Nearly 60 percent of the imports moving through the Port of Los Angeles come from China. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)

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