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U.S. Economic Woes Loom Over Biden Visit to China

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U.S. Economic Woes Loom Over Biden Visit to China

CloseLinkedinDiggMySpacePermalink WASHINGTON — Over the winter, officials in China and the United States were trying to turn a new page in relations. In January, during a state visit to Washington by President Hu Jintao, leaders worked hard to dispel the rancor that had been slowly building. Soon after, Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. committed to an earlier proposal to meet this summer with his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, who is expected to succeed Mr. Hu next year.

But as Mr. Biden prepares to depart for China on Tuesday, a new uncertainty looms over relations.

Chinese leaders are asking sharp questions about the strength of the American economy and American leadership, because of the government’s struggle to meet its debt obligations and the partisan schisms and political paralysis that turned a problem into a crisis. Mr. Biden postponed his original departure date in July to help hammer out the agreement that forestalled default on some obligations but failed to avert a downgrade of America’s AAA credit rating by Standard & Poor’s. Xinhua, the state news agency, published a commentary demanding that the United States “cure its addiction to debts” and “live within its means.”

The uncertainty about America goes straight to China’s pockets: it holds more than $1.1 trillion in United States Treasury securities, making it the country’s largest foreign creditor. Some ordinary Chinese have publicly criticized the Chinese leadership for investing so much in American government securities.

Europe’s continuing sovereign debt miseries, the specter of a possible double-dip recession in the United States, and the turmoil in global markets last week have only heightened anxiety in China, whose economic growth depends to a large measure on its vast export sector.

Zhu Feng, a professor of international relations at Peking University, said he attended a meeting at the Ministry of Finance last week where officials were wringing their hands.

“The feeling of everyone was that the world economy has just suddenly become very unpredictable,” he said. “No one wants to see the U.S. economy keep going downhill and a new financial crisis. China and the U.S. are very important in keeping the global economy stable.”

As they get to know each other, Mr. Biden and Mr. Xi will no doubt discuss some of the security issues that have divided the two countries — American arms sales to Taiwan, North Korea’s nuclear program and tensions over the South China Sea. But the economic issues have moved to the fore.

“The primary purpose of the trip, which was planned before recent economic problems, was to build the relationship with Xi Jinping,” said Jeffrey A. Bader, who until April was the senior director for East Asian affairs on the National Security Council. “Recent events in the economic sphere have undoubtedly put the U.S. economy and U.S. currency on the agenda.”

Da Wei, deputy director of the Institute of American Studies at the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations in Beijing, said, “U.S. Treasury debt is the biggest concern since it’s about the safety of China’s financial investment.”

As in the United States, domestic troubles in China have been taking precedence over foreign relations. The efforts of Chinese leaders to maintain social stability have been challenged this summer by ethnic violence in the western region of Xinjiang and a remarkable surge of public criticism over the government’s handling of a deadly high-speed rail crash in Zhejiang Province.

Perhaps most unsettling for the country’s leaders is the creeping rise in the inflation rate; China’s consumer price index went up 6.4 percent year-on-year in June, the steepest rise in three years. Analysts say average inflation for the year is certain to surpass the 4 percent benchmark Chinese leaders had set. Though it may be peaking, “inflation is likely to remain the policy priority well into the fourth quarter,” Alistair Thornton, a China analyst at IHS Global Insight, wrote in a report last week.

Inflation puts China in much more of a policy bind if the West gets mired in another deep slump. In 2008, when the global financial crisis hit, China relied on stimulus spending and loose lending by state banks to pump up infrastructure building and other capital-intensive projects to maintain economic growth. Now, Chinese officials are concerned about rampant spending and are trying to tighten bank lending.

One point of tension between the United States and China has faded into the background in recent months: China’s valuation of its currency. The Obama administration had long pushed China to appreciate its currency to correct trade imbalances and help restructure the world economy. The Chinese government was reluctant to do so, fearing the cost to exports. But an undervalued renminbi contributes to inflation, so China has been slowly letting the renminbi rise against the dollar.

The issue may also be losing some of its weight in American politics. The International Monetary Fund pointed out in a report last month that a stronger renminbi would not necessarily bolster job creation in the United States.

So instead of Mr. Biden pressing the Chinese on their currency, Chinese officials are likely to be pressing him about the stability of the dollar. All the while, they will be trying to gauge the strength of President Obama, having witnessed the difficulties he faced in persuading Republicans in Congress to raise the debt ceiling.

“It always encourages good behavior in China when they think they’re dealing with a strong U.S. president,” said Kenneth G. Lieberthal, a China scholar at the Brookings Institution who served on the National Security Council in the Clinton administration. “It’s hard to see how recent events would have created an impression that he’s a strong leader.”

Li Bibo contributed research from Beijing.


This could be a disaster


definitely an epiphany of sorts.....


Biden in China...uh oh..defintely could be a major disaster


biden is a open mouth input foot!!!

I give him about 30 minutes from landing that he piss off the whole country!!!


When will they learn not to send Biden anywhere

Vice President Joe Biden, known for his public-speaking stamina as well as for off-the-cuff comments that have landed him in trouble,  sparked a brawl last night between the press and Chinese officials  during a long-running speech.

During a meeting with Chinese Vice President Xi Jingping Thursday in China, Biden followed up on Xi's remarks by giving his own speech. And as Biden delivered his stem-winder, the White House pool reports that a "larger Chinese official" attempted to force the reporters out of the room, causing a near brawl.

"Stern shooing turned into forceful shoving," pool reporter Michael Memoli later wrote for the Los Angeles Times. "As reporters tried to stand their ground, Chinese officials locked arms and pushed forward in a show of overwhelming force."

"Officials said Biden was going on too long, though he at that point had not spoken for more than 5-6 minutes, including the consecutive translation," according to the pool report.

Reporters had difficulty hearing the speech due to the "fisticuffs" as Memoli described it, and gave up when it was clear Biden was finishing up.

Chinese officials attempted to clear the room early at a second event Thursday, though the pool report for that gathering doesn't indicate that any altercation broke out.

Apparently, reporters had been warned of potentially over-aggressive behavior from their Chinese hosts, but Memoli noted that reporters and staff said they had never witnessed that level of "aggressive force" at such an event.


The title of the article should be "U.S worried over Biden's visit to China"

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