* Future leader says Chinese economy will maintain growth
* China to encourage domestic consumption, investment abroad
* Dreamworks Animation signs deal to make films in Shanghai
By Chris Buckley and Edwin Chan
LOS ANGELES, Feb 17 Chinese Vice President
Xi Jinping said on Friday the Chinese economy would experience
stable growth and avoid a hard landing this year, discounting a
scenario economists fear may upset the global economy.
The Chinese leader-in-waiting, turning to courting American
companies and governors hungry for a slice of his nation's
growth, told a business forum in Los Angeles that the world's
No. 2 economy will continue to push domestic demand while
directing investment toward the United States.
Xi said "2012 will be a crucial year in driving the 12th
five-year plan. China's economy will maintain stable growth ...
there will be no so-called hard landing."
"We will encourage more consumption, imports, and outward
investment," he told a business forum in Los Angeles on the
final leg of his five-day U.S. visit, drawing light applause.
Xi is almost certain to succeed Hu Jintao as Chinese
president in just over a year, and his tour of the United States
has featured commercial deals and reassuring talk intended to
blunt American ire about the trade gap between the countries.
But the 58-year-old former Shanghai party
secretary found time also for less weighty matters, including a
quick detour to the International Studies Learning School in
South Gate -- an urban Los Angeles enclave of mainly Hispanics.
U.S. Vice President Joe Biden and Xi met with students
studying Chinese and watched as students performed a traditional
dragon dance to drums and did kung fu moves to applause.
"Notwithstanding the differences on matters relating to
trade and some other issues, there's one thing we absolutely
agree wholeheartedly, that the future of the 21st century is
going to be written in large part by how well the United States
of America and China meet their mutual responsibilities, for us
to cooperate in a friendly way," Biden said after.
Xi is poised to become China's next leader after a decade in
which it has grown to become the world's second-largest economy,
while the United States has endured the deepest recession since
the Great Depression of the 1930s.
The twin superpowers now butt heads on a plethora of issues
from human rights to Taiwan. The U.S. trade deficit with China
expanded to a record $295.5 billion in 2011 and many U.S.
lawmakers complain that China's yuan currency is significantly
undervalued, giving its companies an unfair advantage.
As well, the Obama administration has accused Beijing of
distorting trade flows by ignoring intellectual property theft,
putting up barriers against foreign investors and creating rules
that favor China's state-owned behemoths.
On Friday, Xi said his country is working to address those
"We are strengthening intellectual property protection
through a mix of administrative and judicial measures," he said.
Xi's stop in Los Angeles has been choreographed to display
China's case that its rapid growth presents the U.S. economy
with opportunities, not threats. He is also due to attend a
meeting of U.S. state governors and Chinese provincial leaders
talking about expanding economic links.
Scores of executives from major U.S. and Chinese
companies, from Intel to Microsoft, lined up
to sign a plethora of deals after Xi's address at the economic
forum on Friday. Those included "Kung Fu Panda" studio
Dreamworks Animation's venture to make films from
Shanghai, and Chinese telecoms giant Huawei's pledge to award $6
billion of contracts over three years to Qualcomm Inc,
Broadcom Corp and Avago.
The Chinese trade delegation this week also inked deals
to buy a record 13.4 million tonnes of U.S. soybeans, valued at
$6.7 billion. Before Los Angeles, Xi visited the heartland
farm state of Iowa, where Chinese soybean buyers announced they
would buy more than $4 billion in U.S. soybeans this year.
At a midday reception for Xi that brought together some
U.S. governors and their Chinese counterparts, Biden said the
United States welcomed Chinese competition and investment. But
he again nudged Xi on trade barriers.
"Competition can only benefit everyone if the rules are
fair and followed," he said. "The faster the U.S. economy grows,
the more Chinese citizens will benefit."
Chinese officials are worried about their government
becoming a focus of feuding during the U.S. presidential
election race, when jobs and economic opportunities are likely
to weigh on many voters' minds.
On Thursday, a leading Republican contender for the White
House, Mitt Romney, criticized President Barack Obama's China
policy and called meetings this week with Vice President Xi
Earlier, in Washington, Xi suggested that the United States
should fix its own economic problems and relax high-tech export
controls, instead of blaming China.
"China has become the United States' fastest growing export
market," Xi told an audience of business executives and
policymakers on Wednesday.
"Speaking frankly, an important aspect of addressing the
imbalance in Chinese-U.S. trade is the United States' own
economic policies and structural adjustment."
Xi echoed those sentiments on Friday but also sought to
dispel fears that China's economic and political ascendancy
could pose a threat.
"A prosperous and stable China will not be a threat to any
country," he said.