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In China, Biden touts 'fundamental strengths' of U.S. economy

August 17, 2011|By Michael A. Memoli | Washington Bureau
  • Vice President Joe Biden and his granddaughter Naomi Biden arrive in Beijing.
Vice President Joe Biden and his granddaughter Naomi Biden arrive in Beijing. (Alexander F. Yuan / Associated…)

Reporting from Beijing   — Vice President Joe Biden is reaffirming the United States' status as a world economic power at the start of a five-day visit to China.

Biden arrived in Beijing on Wednesday evening, shaking off jet lag to make an unscheduled visit to an exhibition game featuring the Georgetown University men's basketball team.

Photos: Vice President Biden in China

On Thursday he begins the substantive portion of what is a more than weeklong tour of Asia, with the first in a series of meetings with Chinese Vice President Xi Jingping, widely expected to be the nation's future leader.

The visit was announced in January when President Obama hosted Chinese President Hu Jintao for a White House state dinner. But the meeting has taken on added significance, coming weeks after U.S. debt-ceiling crisis and the subsequent downgrade of the nation's credit rating by Standard & Poor's.

Biden, in a pair of interviews with Chinese media, said the "fundamental strengths" of the American economy have allowed the nation to weather recent crises.

During his long career in public service, Biden told Caijing, "many people have said, as some are saying now, that the U.S. is in decline. They were wrong then, and they're wrong now."

Reflecting the concerns of America's top foreign creditor, Biden said that the Obama administration "is deeply committed to maintaining the fundamentals of the U.S. economy that ensure the safety, liquidity and value of U.S. Treasury obligations for all of its investors.

Chinese officials have warned in the weeks following the debt-ceiling agreement that the U.S. needs to get its fiscal house in order.

But Biden will be carrying with him U.S. demands that China take steps to continue to rebalance its economy from one focused on exports to one that is increasingly self-sustaining and service-based.

Biden told the state-run People's Daily of China that the two nations have a "cooperative and comprehensive relationship," and to continue that each "must be frank and honest about our disagreements."

"We must address them firmly and decisively as we pursue the urgent work we have to do together. Doing so will make our relationship more stable and more resilient," Biden said.

michael.memoli@latimes.com

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