Chicago’s Mayor Richie Daley, named by Time magazine in 2005 as the best out of five mayors of large cities, and his wife Maggie, with a host of business and civic leaders, met with Chinese President Hu on Thursday afternoon as the Chinese leader began a two day visit to Chicago.
President Hu arrived from Washington D.C., following a warm and productive meeting with American President Obama. Hu, with the assistance of a translator, greeted Daley and congratulated him on his 22 years as Chicago’s mayor; Hu referred to Daley’s being, “The most senior mayor in America.” Also present as the Chinese leader stepped off the plane at O’Hare International Airport, were Chinese consulate officials, there to welcome President Hu.
Chicago is excited by the Chinese President’s stay in Chicago. They are excited and proud that President Hu will visit Walter Payton High School’s Confucius Center, near Lake Michigan, and north of the Loop downtown area, where Mandarin Chinese is taught to some 12,000 of Chicago’s students. Most Students in China are taught English as part of their curriculum. Mayor Daley has mentioned to friends and media that on his first visit to China, seven years ago, he saw that all the students at an elementary school he visited spoke English, and spoke it well.
At O’Hare field, and along the route of the motorcade, hundreds of people lined the streets to catch a glimpse of the diplomats. Some protestors also were present, concerned with human rights violations, and some seeking a free Tibet.
Daley spoke at a lavish dinner for the Chinese President on Thursday evening, at the prestigious Hilton Hotel, stressing the importance of trade and cultural ties. Among those present were Illinois Senators Dick Durbin, and Mark Kirk, Congressman Mike Quigley, and Mayoral candidate Rahm Emanuel. Business leaders too were at the gathering; James McNerney, CEO of Boeing, and the heads of JP Morgan Chase, Motorola Solutions, and Caterpillar, Inc. During speeches following the dinner, Chicago’s Mayor Daley said to President Hu and the assembled guests, “There are many great things to see in Chicago, but there is nothing more important I can show President Hu than our children in school learning, and our thriving business community.” “One of the things we share is our commitment to prepare our children for the global economy of the future.”