* China trade mission includes top company executives
* Chicago, Boston among other U.S. cities on agenda
By Chris Baltimore
HOUSTON, Jan 17 The Chinese government kicked
off a four-day U.S. trade mission on Monday by signing six
deals in Houston with undisclosed U.S. companies worth $600
million, according to Chinese state media reports.
The deals came a day before Chinese President Hu Jintao
arrives in the United States for a visit being billed as the
most important U.S.-China summit since Deng Xiaoping's visit to
Washington 30 years ago.
China's vice commerce minister, Wang Chao, led a business
delegation to Houston, signing two cotton import agreements, an
agreement on import of assembly kits, an agreement on
"development and application of efficient crystalline silicon
solar cells and photovoltaic generation system," and a deal on
porcelain imports, said state media outlet Xinhua.
An official with the Chinese Consulate in Houston declined
to provide details on the companies involved.
Wang's Houston delegation included 120 government and
business officials, said the Greater Houston Partnership, the
city's business development arm.
It included chief executives from some of China's largest
firms in the areas of trade, health, biotechnology, real
estate, manufacturing, banking and education, the Partnership
Chinese officials and company representatives will hold
similar events in Washington, Boston, Chicago, Minneapolis,
Raleigh, North Carolina, and Frankfort, Kentucky, this week.
Business deals worth potentially tens of billions of
dollars could be announced, but U.S. industry officials have
been hesitant to estimate a dollar amount.
In Washington, U.S. President Barack Obama and Hu are
expected to discuss a wide range of issues, including stability
on the Korean peninsula and simmering tensions over a
ballooning trade gap.
The U.S. trade deficit with China is expected to hit $270
billion this year. The two countries blame each other for
causing problems in international commerce.
(Editing by Peter Cooney)