Biden, Xi Jinping attend trade conference

Aug. 19, 2011 at 6:55 PM
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BEIJING, Aug. 19 (UPI) -- U.S. Vice President Joe Biden Friday attended a business dialogue in Beijing to boost bilateral trade ties with China, America's largest foreign creditor.

Biden, who stopped in China on the first leg of his Asian tour, which will also taken him to Mongolia and Japan, was joined at the Beijing dialogue by his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, tipped to succeed Hu Jintao as China's next president and party general secretary.

Later in the day, Biden and Hu exchanged pleasantries in an official meeting, the White House said.

"To get straight to the point, Mr. president, President Obama asked me to come to Beijing to meet with you and others to reaffirm our absolute, total commitment to a strong and enduring positive relationship with China, and to reaffirm our commitment to stay engaged in the world in the most vigorous way possible," Biden said.

The state-run Xinhua news agency said the U.S.-China business dialogue, aimed at enhancing bilateral trade and economic ties, also included senior executives from prestigious enterprises and institutions such as China Ocean Shipping (Group) Co., Bank of China, Lenovo, General Motors, J.P. Morgan and the American Chamber of Commerce in China.

China at the end of June held about $1.16 trillion of U.S. treasuries, making it the largest foreign holder of such debt. Biden's visit follows the Aug. 5 downgrade of U.S. debt by Standard & Poor's, an action that created global uncertainty about the safety of dollar assets. Other credit rating agencies have retained the United States' AAA rating.

Xinhua said Thursday Biden and Xi spoke firmly about cooperation amid doubts about the future of harmonious relations between the world's two largest economies.

"In facing a complicated and fast-changing world, cooperation is the only correct choice for the two countries," Xi said during talks with Biden.

Biden was quoted as saying, "I am absolutely confident that the economic stability of the world rests in no small part on cooperation between the United States and China."

"China's development can be interpreted either as a threat or an opportunity. It depends on the United States' top leadership to make its judgment," Qu Xing, president of the China Institute for International Studies, was quoted as saying.

Xi said the key to ensuring healthy development of bilateral relations "is to respect each other's core interests," which include China's claims over Taiwan and its rule in Tibet.

Biden was quoted as saying the United States will firmly stand by its one-China policy and will not support "Taiwan independence" and that Tibet is an inalienable part of China.

On yuan appreciation, a strong U.S. demand to level the trade playing field, Xinhua said the Chinese currency during Biden's visit "has once again become fodder for the headlines of some Western newspapers."

The report said speculation about "the alleged undervaluation of the yuan is indeed wide of the mark" as China has been making serious efforts to create a more flexible exchange rate regime in a gradual way.

Tony Blinken, Biden's national security adviser, has said the vice president's Asia trip "is part of the administration's dedicated effort over the last 2 1/2 years to renew and intensify the U.S. role in Asia" and "a reflection of our belief that the United States is a Pacific power whose interests are inextricably linked with Asia's economic security and political order."

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