US Vice President Joe Biden, starting a visit to China under a cloud of criticism over the US debt crisis, told his hosts yesterday that the two nations held the key to global economic stability.
Biden, 68, needs to mend the US’ worsening image in China after the world’s largest economy came close to a disastrous default on its debts earlier this month and suffered a historic credit rating downgrade.
China is the biggest foreign holder of US debt and the country’s state-run media have delivered a barrage of criticism of Washington’s handling of the debt crisis, which they have described as a “ticking time bomb.”
“I am absolutely confident that the economic stability of the world rests in no small part on cooperation between the United States and China,” Biden told his counterpart, Xi Jinping (習近平), who is set to succeed Chinese President Hu Jintao (胡錦濤) in 2013. “It affects every country, from your neighbor to the north, to Argentina in the southern tip of South America. It is the key, in my view, to global economic stability.”
Biden attended a welcoming ceremony at Beijing’s Great Hall of the People, before holding talks with Xi, his official host in China.
The trip is aimed partly at building ties with the likely next leader of the world’s second-biggest economy, who remains virtually unknown in US policy circles.
Senior officials traveling with Biden, who declined to be named, told reporters Xi had expressed confidence in the recovery of the US economy and that the two had also discussed North Korea and trade issues.
Chinese media had said weapons sales to Taiwan would be a top item on the agenda for the visit.
The official China Daily said US arms sales to Taiwan were the “biggest source of disagreement between Washington and Beijing.”
“Any misstep in dealing with the issue of arms sales to Taiwan may disrupt the improving relationship between the two powers,” the paper said in an editorial.
The US is expected to decide by October whether to sell Taipei F-16C/D aircraft, a step promoted by US lawmakers, but strongly opposed by Beijing.
US officials said Biden had “reiterated US determination to maintain peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait,” but they refused to further elaborate.
US President Barack Obama’s deputy also met parliamentary chief Wu Bangguo (吳邦國) and he will hold talks with Hu and Premier Wen Jiabao (溫家寶) today, before traveling to the southwestern boomtown of Chengdu.
“As the world economy’s circumstances are uneasy, as the two largest economies in the world, we hold the key to creating growth and jobs worldwide,” Biden told Wu. “That’s the overwhelming reason I’ve come — to talk about jobs and growth worldwide ... To discuss the reordering of our economies — yours and ours.”