L.A. Now

Area's Chinese American community readies banquet for Xi Jinping

As Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping makes his way across the U.S. in a five-day tour, Chinese American community leaders in Southern California are putting the finishing touches on their high-profile welcome banquet.

Many Chinese American business leaders, professors and residents have been trying to score a ticket to the invitation-only event Thursday night.

"My phone has not stopped ringing," said Sue Zhang, president of the Roundtable of Chinese American Organizations and the head of the 15-person welcome committee formed to prepare the banquet. "Everyone's asking me if they can be added to the guest list, and I have to tell them, 'No, there's no room.' "

Zhang wants to ensure that every sector of the region's Chinese American community — commerce, education, media and science — has its best representatives at the banquet, which is to be held at the JW Marriott hotel at L.A. Live in downtown Los Angeles.

"We all hope to properly welcome him and bridge our communities," Zhang said.

Ling Wang, a teacher at a San Gabriel Chinese school, was among those trying to get on the list.

"I called too late; I know I've missed this opportunity," Wang said in Mandarin. "I'm just one of many who want to go and welcome the official most likely to be the next leader of China."

Attendance has been limited to 500 seats, with more than 100 filled by Xi's delegation. Despite all the last-minute phone calls, the final guest list is unchangeable because of the high security.

The night's events will include cultural performances, as well as a speech by Xi, who is expected to replace Chinese President Hu Jintao next year.

David Fang, a Taiwanese-educated attorney in Los Angeles, was lucky enough to land a VIP ticket.

"The media may report it slightly differently," he said, "and I want to see his mannerisms, the way he speaks. He represents so much in terms of China's economic strength, foreign investment, future trade relations — it'll be an honor just to hear his speech firsthand."

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