US Vice President Joe Biden tried to reassure China’s leaders yesterday that its US$1.2 trillion in US Treasury debt is safe, while both sides stressed the importance of cooperation to revive world growth.
Biden’s visit is aimed at learning about Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping (習近平), who is expected to become leader of the Chinese Communist Party next year. However, it has been overshadowed by US economic uncertainty and Beijing’s anxiety about the safety of its US assets.
“The US economy is highly resilient,” Xi said as he and Biden held a round-table meeting with business leaders. “We believe that the US economy will achieve even better development as it rises to challenges.”
Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao (溫家寶), the ruling party’s No. 3 leader, echoed that theme in a meeting with Biden later.
Wen said he has “full confidence” the US will “get its economy back on the track of healthy growth.”
Chinese leaders have repeated that upbeat theme throughout Biden’s visit, trying to project a responsible image and reassure jittery global markets.
Both sides stressed the importance of US-Chinese cooperation to revive world growth, reflecting the array of trade and investment ties that link the world’s two biggest economies despite tensions over human rights, Taiwan and other issues.
“It’s particularly important that you have sent a clear message to the Chinese public that the US will keep its word with regard to its government debt,” Wen said. “It will preserve the safety, liquidity and value of US Treasurys.”
Biden reassured Wen about the security of China’s US bond holdings and said Washington “appreciates and welcomes” Chinese investment.
“I want to be clear that you have nothing to worry about,” Biden said in the meeting at the Zhongnanhai compound where Chinese leaders live and work.
In a later meeting with Chinese President Hu Jintao (胡錦濤), Biden said US President Barack Obama had tasked him with reaffirming the US’ “absolute and total commitment to stay engaged in the world in the most vigorous way possible.”
Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Cui Tiankai (崔天凱) told reporters the discussions had also touched on US actions toward Taiwan. Cui said the sides also discussed a range of global issues and that China urged a speedy resumption of six-nation North Korea disarmament talks. He declared the visit a success in boosting understanding between Biden and Xi.
“I think they’ve established a good working relationship,” Cui said.
China’s rising economic and military might have led both sides to call for better communication to solve issues that could flare into bigger problems and cooperation on issues including the economic crisis and the environment.