Chinese President Xi Jinping landed in Seattle Tuesday for his first U.S. trip. It's an opportunity for him to visit American businesses, discuss climate change and cyber espionage with President Obama, and talk to the United Nations. During a speech to Seattle business leaders, Jinping showed off his knowledge of American culture, saying that the Chinese are fond of the northwestern city because of the movie Sleepless in Seattle, and he even made a joke about House of Cards. While Jinping talked about his crackdown on corruption in China, he said: "It has nothing to do with a power struggle. In this case, there is no House of Cards." However, there are a few similarities between House of Cards and life in China.
The Chinese love House of Cards — it's one of the most illegally downloaded shows in the country, even though it's available to stream legally through SohuTV, which bought the rights to the Netflix hit. China finds its way into the show quite often, too, as the U.S. government deals with foreign policy issues. And a lot of the fictional storylines mimic very real problems. Here are three ways House of Cards is similar to real life in China.
In the show: The cyber espionage plot in House of Cards isn't directly related to China, but it's still there. In an attempt to expose Vice President Frank Underwood's many crimes, Lucas Goodwin tries to find hackers to help uncover evidence against the corrupt politician, but instead meets Gavin Orsay, an FBI-controlled hacker sent by Doug Stamper. Orsay manipulates Goodwin into hacking an AT&T server farm, a form of cyber-terrorism, and Goodwin is sentenced to 10 years in prison.
In real life: The U.S. has been very worried about cyber espionage from China in recent years, and National Security Adviser Susan Rice warned China on Monday to stop state-sponsored spying. During a speech at George Washington University, Rice said: "It puts enormous strain on our bilateral relationship, and it is a critical factor in determining the future trajectory of U.S.-China ties."
In the show: The Chinese government talks about ending its foreign exchange policies in order to free up interest rates and reduce the country's inflation. Vice President Underwood is suspicious that Xander Feng is only supporting this change for personal profit.
In real life: China's currency, the yuan renminbi, dropped in value by 4.4 percent in relation to the U.S. dollar in August, which made the country's exports cheaper and imports more expensive. The move was criticized by many American politicians because it increased American tariffs.
In the show: Feng and Underwood discuss a trade dispute involving a rare-earth mineral refinery controlled by the Chinese government. Underwood gives the OK for the Chinese to offer businessman Raymond Tusk a 40-year lease for the refinery, with the stipulation that the government allow others to officially bid for the lease to keep up appearances.
In real life: China controls about 95 percent of the world's rare-earth mineral production, and holds half of the world's reserves. In January, the country dropped its export quota for rare-earth metals after losing a 2014 trade case at the World Trade Organization. These metals are in high demand, as they're used to make cell phones and electric vehicles.