Xi sightsees, talks trade in Alaska layover

Donald Trump

Chinese President Xi Jinping met Alaska's Governor Bill Walker as he made a surprise visit to the USA state before taking to the skies again in his Boeing 747 for the journey back to Beijing.

Alaska and China have had exchanges in history, Xi told Walker, adding that the state of Alaska and its largest city Anchorage are the participants and witnesses of the development of China-U.S. relations.

Walker and Xi also held a brief session in public, a slightly longer private meeting and then had dinner at a downtown Anchorage hotel.

Chinese President Xi Jinping was able to take in views Friday night of the natural beauty that Alaska has to offer.

China is a vital trading partner for Alaska and the largest export market for its aquatic products.

Xi and his wife Peng Liyuan drove down a palm-lined driveway past a military honour guard to Trump's Spanish-style Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Florida, welcomed by Trump and his wife Melania before going inside.

Trump has repeatedly hammered China for exporting more to the USA than it buys. He said he understood the trade talk would focus mostly on oil and gas, but added: "I would say that any trade that we can boost in the fishery with any particular county, China would be one that would be huge".

The objective of the meeting with President Trump was to set the direction for China-U.S. relations in the new era and expand pragmatic cooperation in a wide range of fields, Xi said.

Before the meeting, he took a ride on the only highway that leads south of Anchorage, a stunning coastal highway along Turnagain Arm in Cook Inlet.

Alaska's location provides a natural stopping point for world leaders to make refueling stops, and Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson in Anchorage has hosted many presidents over the years for these short stints. Alaska's leading export is various species of fish.