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Biden on China trip: 'I didn't come to explain a damn thing'

August 24, 2011|By Michael A. Memoli

Reporting from Yokota Air Base, Japan   — Vice President Joe Biden closed his nine-day Asia tour with a pep talk for U.S. forces stationed in Japan, touting America’s role as a “Pacific power.”

Ending a trip that began in China, the vice president stated clearly that his visit there was not one of reassurance about American finances, as had been the prevailing sentiment.

“I didn’t come to explain a damn thing,” he said.

Photos: Biden in China

In an interview Monday night Biden was more diplomatic when discussing his talks with Chinese leaders, saying their comments behind closed doors about U.S. finances didn’t match public criticism.

“I didn’t get any sense that there was any anxiety from them, on the part of the Chinese government, about whether or not we were a rising or declining economic power,” he said. “I got the sense that just like to us, they were hoping we’d begin to grow again seriously because it’s in their interest.”

Biden began his trip in China last Thursday with meetings with Vice President Xi Jingping, who stated publicly that he had confidence in the resilience of the U.S. economy.

Premier Wen Jiabao said Biden had sent an important message about the American commitment to meet its obligations. Biden said then that the Chinese "have nothing to worry about."

Before heading off to Air Force 2, Biden told the troops stationed here that his tour was in part about reminding the Chinese that the United States “will remain a Pacific power as long as any of us are standing.”

He also paid tribute to the sacrifices made by the U.S. armed forces, saying that history will ultimately judge the so-called “9/11 generation” as among its greatest.

“Never before has our nation asked so much of a volunteer army. And none has paid a higher price than our fallen angels,” he said.

Biden will visit with another group of military personnel at Marine Corps Base Hawaii. He returns to Washington on Friday.

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