“Polynesian Cultural Center Hosts Chinese President,” Ensign, Oct. 1985, 78
The usually solemn president of the world’s most populous nation smiled, waved, donned a Samoan hat woven of coconut leaves, and mimicked the hand movements of a dancer during a July 31 canoe ride down the lagoon at the Church’s Polynesian Cultural Center in Laie, Hawaii.
A U.S. Secret Service agent accompanying President Li Xiannian said the 78-year-old Chinese leader “seemed more relaxed and animated” at the Cultural Center than at any other stop during his visit to the United States.
President Li was greeted at the forty-two-acre Hawaiian attraction by Elder Marvin J. Ashton of the Council of the Twelve, board chairman of the Polynesian Cultural Center.
Following the canoe ride down the lagoon, the official party went to the Cultural Center’s 2,775-seat Pacific Pavilion amphitheater, where the Chinese visitors were greeted with a standing ovation from a capacity crowd. They saw a shortened version of the center’s spectacular “This Is Polynesia” show. Afterward, President Li was formally welcomed.
Through his interpreter, President Li thanked the Polynesian Cultural Center for its generosity and praised the center for its efforts in preserving and maintaining a strong cultural identity for the people of the South Pacific.
The Chinese leader’s visit culminated a ten-day goodwill mission to the United States, during which he met President Ronald Reagan at the White House in Washington, D.C. He also traveled to Chicago and Los Angeles before stopping in Hawaii for a two-day visit.
President Li’s visit to the Polynesian Cultural Center was the second by a top-ranking Chinese leader. It follows an earlier visit by Chinese Premier Zhao Ziyang in January 1984.