by Xinhua writers Zhi Linfei, Wang Zongkai
WASHINGTON, Feb. 10 (Xinhua) -- On Jan. 17, days ahead of the Chinese Year of the Dragon, a roaring celebration featuring traditional Chinese dragon and lion dances was held at the local Hilton hotel.
It was part of the "Welcome" program launched in 62 Hilton hotels and resorts worldwide to serve guests from China, a key source of growth for the hotel chain.
For global affairs observers, the event at Washington Hilton carries a more significant message --the increasingly interwoven economic and trade relations between China and the United States.
MORE CHINESE FOOTPRINTS IN U.S.
Nowadays it is not unusual to meet Chinese in U.S. cities, as more and more Chinese are visiting the United States for sightseeing, studying and business.
Indeed, the size of China-U.S. tourism exchange increased from 2.35 million tourists in 2006 to 3.08 million in 2010, a 7 percent year-on-year growth. Particularly, the number of Chinese outbound tourists rose by an average of 15 percent, according to China's National Tourism Administration.
To tap the huge potential of the Chinese market, as China's middle class is rapidly expanding due to its fast economic growth, more and more U.S. hotels, airlines and shopping malls are sending marketing representatives to China.
The U.S. government recently announced measures to streamline the visa renewal procedure for Chinese applicants in a bid to attract more Chinese tourists and create more jobs at home.
This winter, as U.S. consumer spending lies dormant due to a sluggish economy, Chinese tourists are helping revive the sleepy hotel, transportation and retail industries.
At the ZALES jewelry store at the Leesburg Premium Outlets in Virginia, Natalia Wang, a Mandarin-speaking Chinese American, recently found a job here as a consultant to provide service especially for Chinese patrons.
Caterpillar is not alone. Apple, the leading electronic gadgets developer and producer, depends more on China.
Most of the 70 million iPhones, 30 million iPads and 59 million other products that Apple sold last year were assembled in China.
Apple's executives said China is attractive not just because of the lower labor costs there, but because it has a sound supply chain and strong, large-scale manufacturing power.
"You need a thousand rubber gaskets? That's the factory next door. You need a million screws? That factory is a block away. You need that screw made a little bit different? It will take three hours," a former high-ranking Apple executive was quoted by the Wall Street Journal as saying.
Another advantage China offers is that it has legions of engineers, unmatched by few countries.
According to Apple, it would take as long as nine months to find about 8,700 qualified engineers to guide 200,000 assembly-line workers in the United States, while in China, it takes only 15 days.
Now China is the United States' second-largest trade partner and vice versa. China is also the third-largest export destination and biggest import source for the United States.
China and the United States have "huge potential" for economic cooperation, Nicholas Lardy, a senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics, told Xinhua.
As global economic outlook was dampened by the simmering eurozone debt crisis, China and the United States, the world's two largest economies, have good reasons to jointly tide over the difficulties through deepened economic cooperation and closer coordination, Lardy said.？