LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — During one of his final trips in office, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa Tuesday met with Chinese President Xi Jinping during a visit to Beijing.
The third meeting between Villaraigosa and President Xi is focused on strengthening key economic and political ties between Los Angeles and China's capitol city.
As L.A.'s top international trading partner, Beijing represents 39 percent of total global trade for L.A. and is also the city's top overseas tourist market.
"Los Angeles is the epicenter of the subnational US-China relationship," said President Xi in a statement. "In China, we have a saying: for a 9-story building, construction starts with a strong foundation on the ground level."
Villaraigosa and Xi have shared a strong friendship since meeting in December 2011 when Mayor Villaraigosa led a trade mission to Asia. At the time, Xi was Vice President of China.
Xi then visited Los Angeles in February 2012, when Villaraigosa hosted a lunch in his honor and invited and even escorted Xi to a Lakers game.
Next week, Xi is scheduled to visit Southern California for a meeting with President Obama in Rancho Mirage at the Sunnylands estate of late publishing tycoon Walter Annenberg.
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