Vice-President Xi Jinping greets his US counterpart Joe Biden during a welcoming ceremony inside the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on Thursday. [Wu Zhiyi / China Daily]
Vice-President tells Biden cooperation is the only choice
BEIJING – China and the United States share a responsibility for boosting global market confidence, Vice-President Xi Jinping said on Thursday, while meeting US Vice-President Joe Biden who is on a trust-building visit.
“Recently, turmoil in international financial markets has deepened and global economic growth faces severe challenges,” Xi said.
“As the world’s two biggest economies, China and the US have a responsibility to strengthen macro-economic policy coordination and together boost market confidence.
“In facing a complicated and fast-changing world, cooperation is the only correct choice for the two countries,” Xi told Biden during their two-hour meeting inside the Great Hall of the People.
The Chinese leader also expressed confidence in US economic prospects.
Biden said that economic stability depended on US-China collaboration.
“I am absolutely confident that the economic stability of the world rests in no small part on cooperation between the US and China.
“Our commitment to establishing a close and serious relationship with the people of China is of the utmost importance to my country,” he said.
Biden arrived in Beijing on Wednesday night on a six-day official visit amid fierce criticism over the US debt crisis.
The AFP reported that Biden is here “under pressure to revive the image of the US”. It said the “main focus” of Biden’s visit will likely be on Beijing’s concerns over the safety of its US investments.
As the largest foreign holder of US debt with around $1.17 trillion in US Treasuries by the end of June, China watched nervously as Washington came close to default this month and Standard & Poor’s downgraded the credit rating of the US.
In an interview before his arrival in Beijing, Biden said that Washington was committed to ensure the safety of US Treasury obligations for all of its investors.
According to a press release from the Foreign Ministry, Xi also asked Washington to respect China’s “core interests” including issues related to Taiwan and Tibet.
“They must be handled prudently and properly to avoid disturbing and hampering China-US relations,” Xi said.
The US is expected to decide by October whether to sell Taiwan F-16 fighter jets, a move promoted by US lawmakers but strongly opposed by Beijing.
The Dalai Lama visited the US in July and met US President Barack Obama, a move that infuriated China.
Biden told Xi that the US fully understands that the Taiwan question and the Tibet issue are China’s core interests. The US will firmly adhere to the one-China policy, will not support Taiwan “independence” and fully recognizes that Tibet is an inalienable part of China, Biden said.
Biden on Thursday also enjoyed light moments in his first visit here as vice-president. He lasted visited China as a senator in 2001.
After holding talks with Xi, Biden and his entourage, including his granddaughter, went to lunch in a small restaurant named Yao’s Chao Gan (stir-fried pork liver) between 1:30 pm and 2 pm.
The restaurant is located next to one of Beijing’s landmarks, the Drum Tower.
Biden ordered five local dishes including noodles with soybean paste, smashed cucumber salad, Chinese yam salad, green pepper and potato threads, and soft drinks, Yao Ping, one of the restaurant’s owners, told China Daily.
“He is very amiable,” Yao said. “He not only talked to us, but also chatted with other customers.”
The bill came to 79 yuan ($12.4) and Biden paid it himself, Yao said. “He gave me a 100-yuan note and left the change as a tip. They must have enjoyed the dishes as they ate everything,” he said.
Upon his arrival in Beijing on Wednesday evening, Biden and his delegation watched a basketball game between the Georgetown Hoyas and the Shanxi Brave Dragons at the National Olympic Sports Center.
Da Wei, an analyst from the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations (CICIR), said such arrangements were part and parcel of public diplomacy.
“They’re trying to show Chinese people a friendly image of high-level US officials, ” Da said.
As for the talks between Xi and Biden, Da said “no mention of the US arms sales in the press release does not necessarily mean that the two sides did not exchange views on that”.
Singapore’s Lianhe Zaobao newspaper noted Biden arrived on Aug 17, the very day that the two countries signed the Aug 17 Communique in 1982, in which the US promised to gradually reduce arm sales to Taiwan.
“So it is an inevitable issue during Biden’s visit,” the paper said.
Yuan Peng, director of the American Studies Center with CICIR, said the visit’s six-day duration, unusually long, will allow Biden to see western parts of China and give him a deeper understanding of the country.
Yuan said he also noticed that Biden talked of welcoming Chinese investment to the US and US efforts to ease restrictions on high-tech exports to China during an interview with the People’s Daily ahead of the visit.
This is a fundamental way to settle the trade deficit between the two countries and ensure China’s dollar asset security, he said.
AP said Biden’s trip is also aimed at getting to know Xi, who will visit Washington later this, or early next, year.
“Foreign policy is more than just one visit, it’s about establishing relationships and trust,” Biden told Xi. “It is my fond hope that our personal relationship will continue to grow as well.”
He is scheduled to meet President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao on Friday before going to Chengdu, capital of Sichuan province the following day, where he will visit areas hit by the massive 2008 earthquake.