Chinese President Xi Jinping is getting a warm welcome from U.S. President Barack Obama this afternoon in Rancho Mirage for their summit and not just because the California desert temperature topped 110 degrees.
In his five years in the White House, Obama has treated the Chinese leadership with guarded respect.
But not everyone in Southern California wants the new, 59-year-old communist leader to be comfortable.
A vocal group of Vietnamese Americans stood outside in the heat near the summit location at the massive Annenberg Estate of Sunnylands, sometimes called the western Camp David.
They chanted anti-Chinese slogans and waved signs like, "Stop murdering Vietnamese fisherman," "Red China back off" and "No deal with bully."
Many Vietnamese Americans in California despise China's aggressive use of its military in the South China Sea to steal long-held Vietnamese territory.
Pro-Tibet protesters were also present.
Los Angeles television stations reported that Obama's motorcade made a last-minute route change that bypassed the protests.
Under heavy ground and air security by the U.S. Secret Service, military forces and local police, the two national leaders are expected to discuss numerous issues including cyber security, industrial pollution and an annoyance to Beijing: the increased presence of lethal U.S military forces in Southeast Asia.
Within the communist system, Xi--who has stayed in Iowa and attended a Los Angeles Lakers game in earlier U.S. visits before he assumed control--is considered a relative pro-market and anti-corruption reformer.
The White House issued a press statement late this afternoon that included opening remarks by Obama.
"Our decision to meet so early, I think, signifies the importance of the U.S.-China relationship," the president told Xi. "It's important not only for the prosperity of our two countries and the security of our two countries, but it's also important for the Asia Pacific region and important for the world."
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The second-term president also said he hopes the summit can help forge "a new model of cooperation."
Xi replied that he was delighted to be in such as "wonderful" place "of sunshine" like the Palm Springs area.
"Our two countries have a vast convergence of shared interests, from promoting our respective economic growth at home to ensuring the stability of the global economy; from addressing international and regional hotspot issues to dealing with all kinds of global challenges," he said. "On all these issues, our two countries need to increase exchanges and cooperation."
Orange County's vibrant, pro-democracy, Little Saigon region--roughly a 90-minute drive from the summit--contains the world's largest population of Vietnamese outside of Vietnam.