WASHINGTON -- Three Chicago area CEOs will be among 14 U.S. corporate executives at the White House today to meet with President Obama, Chinese President Hu Jintao and Chinese business leaders.
Hu, the leader of the world's second superpower, landed here Tuesday and remains in the capital until Thursday, when he flies to Chicago for a trip that wraps up on Friday. Trade relations and national security are the major agenda items on this state visit, with China's human rights record not a priority for the Obama team at this time.
Hu will be feted at a state dinner tonight, the third of the Obama administration. Earlier in the day the two presidents will spend about 45 minutes with executives from the two nations.
"The focus of that discussion will be on ways to expand trade and investment opportunities between our two countries," National Security Adviser Tom Donilon said at a briefing Friday. "There will be American CEOs who have large interests and investments in China. And I'm sure there will be discussion there about how American business can better do business in China."
The Chicago area CEOs are Motorola's Greg Brown, Boeing's Jim McNerney and HSBC's John Thornton. Among those from the administration joining the meeting will be White House chief of staff Bill Daley and senior adviser Valerie Jarrett.
Mayor Daley -- who will be at the state dinner for Hu -- returns to Chicago Thursday morning to be in place to host a major dinner for Hu that night.
Jarrett, along with Tina Tchen, the director of the White House Office of Public Engagement who will be taking over as first lady Michelle Obama's chief of staff and Education Secretary Arne Duncan will be in Chicago on Thursday. Among other events, Hu will tour Walter Payton College Prep.
Sen. Dick Durbin has been invited to the state dinner, but may not be able to attend; he will be in Chicago for Hu on Thursday.
TCHEN FILE: Tchen, a Chicago lawyer before joining the Obama White House, is the highest ranking Chinese-American woman in the administration. Tchen's parents, from Shanghai, came to the U.S. in 1949. Tchen's been to China twice -- in 1973 and in 1997, to adopt her daughter. She studied Chinese for four years and spent a summer in Taiwan.
SCALED DOWN STATE DINNER: After two extravagant state dinners -- in 2009 for Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and last May for Mexican President Felipe Calderon (that one a very costly affair) --Hu is getting a less splashy event to be contained entirely in the various rooms at the White House. A giant temporary pavilion was erected on the South Lawn for the Singh and Calderon events.