Mon, Aug 22, 2011 - Page 1 News List

Biden tells Chinese not to worry about safety of US assets

AP, CHENGDU, CHINA

Chinese students pressed US Vice President Joe Biden yesterday about the safety of Chinese assets in the US, with Biden promising the investments were safe.

Biden brought a strong message of mutual interdependence on his visit to the city of Chengdu on the final day of a five-day visit to the world’s second-largest economy and key US trading partner.

As he did earlier in his visit, Biden endeavored to ease China’s concerns about its US$1.2 trillion in US Treasury holdings despite the massive US deficit and downgrading of the US credit rating.

“You’re safe,” Biden told students in a question-and-answer session following a speech at Sichuan University.

Biden said the interest rate on US Treasurys fell following the downgrade, making them more sought-after than ever.

“If the world thought, my God, they’ve been downgraded and they’re not going to make good on their debt, it would not have been viewed as the safest haven in all the world to invest,” he said.

Biden and Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping (習近平) visited a high school in Sichuan that was rebuilt after the devastating 2008 earthquake and talked to students there.

A Xinhua news agency commentary on Biden’s visit yesterday said that China would be looking for action, rather than words, from Washington to restore confidence in the US economy by gradually reducing the deficit, cutting debt and promoting economic growth.

“What is especially important is to let the world see that the US government and relevant departments have the determination, ability and political aspiration to take actions to resolve these complicated issues,” it said.

Biden emphasized the frequent exchanges between US President Barack Obama and Chinese President Hu Jintao (胡錦濤) along with government officials in the political and economic field. He said there needed to be more exchanges between their civilian and military leaders about security issues, especially on cybersecurity and maritime issues where the sides view matters from different perspectives.

“Our generals should be talking to each other as frequently as our diplomats,” Biden said.

Military-to-military exchanges have a troubled history, with China suspending them to register its anger at US actions toward Taiwan or on the political front. Though revived last year, they could face a new threat when the US announces on Oct. 1 whether it will provide new F-16s to Taiwan.

Biden said the US and China both need global stability, including preventing Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons. He also reasserted that the US will remain a Pacific nation in the future, saying that the US presence had benefited regional stability and allowed China to focus on economic development.

Biden said he recognized frustrations among many Chinese businessmen and officials at the time needed to obtain visas to visit the US and said Washington was working on improvements.

However, he said US companies continue to face major investment barriers in China, a frequent complaint among the business community in China.

He said US businesses were locked out of entire fields and face “restrictions that no other major economy imposes on us or so broadly.”

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