Beijing - China is confident the US economy will get back on
the track of healthy growth, China’s Premier Wen Jiabao told visiting US Vice-President Joe Biden on Friday during his five-day trust building mission to the
United States’ largest creditor.
Earlier in the day, China's vice-president and heir apparent
Xi Jinping gave a ringing endorsement of the resilience of the debt-ridden
American economy during a second day of talks with his US counterpart.
The upbeat tone of Xi, expected to be China's next
president, was in stark contrast to the sharp criticism by state media of
Washington's handling of its economy, for which China is the biggest foreign
"The US economy is highly resilient and has a strong
capacity for self-repair," said Xi, who was speaking to business leaders
at the roundtable event. "We believe that the US economy will achieve even
better development as it rises to challenges."
His were the first comments by a senior Chinese leader on
the state of the US economy since this month's credit rating downgrade by
Standard and Poor's.
Xi said Biden had briefed him on Thursday "about the
efforts of the US government in spurring growth and jobs, cutting (the) budget
deficit, properly handling the debt problem, and preserving the confidence of
Beijing wants Biden to assure it that China's vast holdings
of dollar assets - including US Treasury debt - remain safe despite the downgrade,
state media have indicated.
Chinese state media have repeatedly accused Washington of
reckless fiscal policies that have created uncertainty about Beijing's dollar
assets. Analysts estimate two-thirds of China's $3.2 trillion in foreign
exchange reserves, the world's largest, are in dollar holdings, making it the
biggest foreign creditor to the United States.
Speaking to reporters before the same forum on Friday, Bank
of China president Li Lihui also expressed confidence in Washington's ability
to address its debt problem.
Biden is in China on a five-day visit, the first leg of an
Asia tour, seeking to reduce distrust between the world's two largest economies
and build relations with Chinese leaders.
He has separate afternoon meetings with President Hu
Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao, both of whom are likely to seek Biden's
assessment of the Washington debate to raise the US debt ceiling that brought
the country to the edge of default.
Biden acknowledged that China has legitimate concerns about
its access to US markets, just as Washington is worried about problems US
firms face in China.
Separately, a US official said the United States will
announce nearly $1bn in commercial deals between US companies and China.
A US senior administration official, asked whether Chinese
media criticism about US debt spilt over in Biden's talks with Xi, said:
"I can't comment on what the Chinese media is going to say to the Chinese
public, but we've had lots of discussions between officials and, again, there's
no expression of any concern."
The official spoke on condition of anonymity.
Xi voiced optimism that China will avoid a so-called hard
landing and that China hopes Washington will ease trade restrictions and
provide fair treatment to Chinese firms.
He added that China will give all businesses equal treatment
when seeking government contracts, addressing concerns raised by US executives
that they were being shut out in some cases.
He also reiterated that China and the United States have to
work together to restore confidence in the international markets.
But even as Biden tried to build trust with China in
Beijing's corridors of power, goodwill between the two nations unravelled on Thursday
night on a nearby basketball court where a "friendship" game erupted in