Joe Biden tries to reassure China on U.S. economy


Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping invites U.S. Vice President Joe Biden (L) to view an honor guard during a welcoming ceremony inside the Great Hall of the People on August 18, 2011 in Beijing, China. Biden will visit China, Mongolia and Japan from August 17-25.


Lintao Zhang

Joe Biden, on his first official trip to China, tried to reassure Chinese leaders Friday about the U.S. economy and Chinese ownership of U.S. Treasury debt.

The U.S. vice president's China visit is aimed at forging ties with counterpart Xi Jinping, who is widely expected to replace Hu Jintao as leader of the Communist Party next year.

On Friday, Biden and Xi attended a round-table meeting with businesspeople where he tried to assure China that its $1.2 trillion in Treasure debt is safe, the Associated Press reports.

“The U.S. economy is highly resilient,” Xi said at the meeting. “We believe that the U.S. economy will achieve even better development as it rises to challenges.”

It was an upbeat message echoed by Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao, who said he has “full confidence” the United States will “get its economy back on the track of healthy growth,” the AP reports.

“We appreciate and welcome your concluding that the United States is such a safe haven, and we appreciate your investment in U.S. Treasurys,” Biden told his hosts. “And very sincerely, I want to make clear that you have nothing to worry about.”

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Biden arrived in China on Wednesday, leaving Washington embroiled in bitter political infighting after Standard & Poor's ratings agency downgraded the U.S. debt rating.

China owns vastly more U.S. debt than any other country, and the state-run media have been vociferous in their criticism of Washington over the debt crisis, calling it a "ticking time bomb."

U.S. calls for China to level the economic playing field by hiking the value of its currency, as well as U.S. weapons sales to Taiwan, are expected to be other topics of discussion during Biden's trip to Beijing.

Xi, who is expected to succeed President Hu Jintao in 2013, told Biden that economic concerns were the number one priority, the BBC reported.

"Recently, turmoil in international financial markets has deepened and global economic growth faces severe challenges," Xi told his American guest, according to the Chinese foreign ministry.

"As the world's two biggest economies, China and the United States have a responsibility to strengthen macro-economic policy co-ordination and together boost market confidence."

Before Biden could finish his introductory remarks, however, security staff forcefully pushed foreign reporters out of the room, The New York Times reported.

After the talks, Biden took his granddaughter Naomi and new U.S. Ambassador Gary Locke to a typical Beijing restaurant for lunch.

One customer shouted "Beijing welcomes you!" in Mandarin Chinese and others shook Biden's hand in greeting.

Biden joked with the customers but seemed less amused by the house specialty - pig intestines in soup.

The vice-president ordered noodles and pork buns instead.