Biden faces tough talks in China

US Vice President Joe Biden. File photo: Xinhua

US Vice President Joe Biden arrives in Beijing Monday, starting a four-day China tour that will see him meet with Chinese leaders on hot issues such as the US debt crisis and pending arms sales to Taiwan.

This is Biden’s first trip to the region as Washington’s second-in-command. He was a member of the first US delegation to visit China 32 years ago, following the normalization of Sino-US relations.

Antony Blinken, Biden’s national security advisor, said Monday that the economic aspect of the trip is “obviously very important.”

“Of course, our trade and investment ties with China in particular are growing rapidly in both directions, and we expect this to continue to be a vitally important trade investment relationship in terms of our broader jobs and exports agenda,” Blinken told reporters.

Blinken’s words were echoed by analysts, who pointed out that Biden is the first senior US official to visit Beijing in the wake of the US debt crisis, and that the vice president is likely to offer assurances to China, Washington’s top creditor.

“During the trip, Biden will defend the Obama administration’s ability to keep US fiscal affairs on track and make it clear to China that its investments in the US are safe,” Yuan Peng, director of the Institute of US Studies at the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations, told the Global Times.

“Aside from verbal assurances, Chinese leaders are also likely to seek information on how the US will use money it has borrowed to revive its economy,” Yuan added.

According to the latest data released by the US Department of the Treasury on Monday, China continued to increase its purchases in June, with its holdings rising by $5.7 billion to $1.17 trillion.

China’s investments in US Treasuries went against market expectations after Standard & Poor’s stripped the US of its top AAA credit rating. Holdings rose for a third straight month while other foreign investors were voiding assets for the first time since 2009, Bloomberg reported.

After talks with Chinese President Hu Jintao, Premier Wen Jiabao and Vice President Xi Jinping, Biden will attend a meeting of US and Chinese business leaders.

He will also visit Chengdu, the capital of southwestern Sichuan Province, which has attracted investment from 189 of the Fortune 500 enterprises.

According to a business report by the US Chamber of Commerce in February, more than 80 US enterprises have plans to extend their business in second- and third-tier cities in China, among which Chengdu is a favorite destination.

Analysts suggested that the trip to Chengdu is another reflection of the business aspect of Biden’s visit.

“As Washington struggles to stimulate its sluggish economy, China is regarded as the top target for US exports, and that is one of the reasons for President Barack Obama to deploy former commerce secretary Gary Locke as the new ambassador to China,” Yuan said.

“However, Washington’s restrictions on the export of high-tech products to China and its protectionist policies in certain areas will harm the development of trade ties,” Yuan added.

According to US statistics, the country exported over $110 billion worth of goods and services to China last year, which helped to create more than 500,000 jobs in the United States, Xinhua News Agency reported.

Separately, analysts noted that Chinese leaders are likely to pressure the US side over the latter’s announcement of arms sales to Taiwan scheduled for October 1.

Latest reports revealed that Washington is offering Taiwan a deal to upgrade its F-16A/B jets, instead of delivering the more advanced F-16C/D model.

“I think both sides are pretty clear on this issue,” Paul Haenle, director of the Carnegie-Tsinghua Center for Global Policy, told the Global Times. “China has expressed its opposition to the arms sales. But the US, I would believe, will probably go through with the sales at some point this year.”

Daniel Russel, a White House national security adviser on Asian affairs, told reporters that Biden has no plans to raise the Taiwan issue, “certainly not arms sales during his trip,” while insisting that the vice president will not shy away from raising human rights issues.

After the China tour, Biden will pay a one-day visit to Mongolia, followed by a two-day trip to Japan.

Blinken said Monday that Biden’s Asian tour is part of Washington’s dedicated efforts over the last two-and-a-half years to renew and intensify the US role in Asia.

The trip “is a reflection of our belief that the US is a Pacific power, whose interests are inextricably linked with Asia’s economic security and political order,” he said.

Liu Linlin and agencies contributed to this story

Source: Global Times

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