US, Chinese Vice Presidents Open Formal Talks in Beijing

Posted August 18th, 2011 at 12:45 am (UTC-5)
Leave a comment

The U.S. and Chinese vice presidents have opened their formal talks in Beijing with an admonition that better relations between their countries can benefit the whole world.

Vice Presidents Joe Biden and Xi Jinping retired for private talks Thursday after a red-carpet reception at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing.

China's Xinhua news agency quoted Xi as saying in his opening remarks that the two countries share ever greater interests and responsibilities. He said an enhanced relationship serves the interests not only of the two nations, but of the world.

Biden replied that the economic stability of the world depends “in no small part” on cooperation between the two countries.

The talks are expected to focus on economic issues, with Biden seeking to assure his counterpart that the United States is economically sound and that Chinese investments are safe.

China holds about $1 trillion of the U.S. debt, making it the United States' biggest foreign creditor. It has expressed concern that the deal to raise the U.S. debt ceiling and barely avoid default does not do enough to cut the budget deficit.

The Obama administration says China has its own economic problems. It has repeatedly demanded China let its currency rise against the dollar, complaining that Beijing keeps the yuan artificially low.

Each country has other issues it wants to raise, with the United States promising to bring up human rights issues and China expected to press Washington to reject a bid from Taiwan to purchase advanced F-16 fighters. Taiwan says it has been promised that Biden will not seek Chinese approval of the sale.

In Washington Wednesday, a State Department spokeswoman said Biden will raise U.S. concerns about the human rights situation throughout China, as the government consistently does.

The spokeswoman also urged China to immediately release rights lawyer Gao Zhishen from custody and clarify his whereabouts. Gao has not been heard from in over a year.

U.S. officials say one of the purposes of Biden's trip is to get to know the next generation of Chinese leaders, including Xi who is expected to succeed Hu Jintao as president. Biden and Xi will travel together Saturday to the southwestern province of Sichuan.

On Friday, Biden plans to meet with Mr. Hu and Premier Wen Jiabao, and join a roundtable discussion between Chinese and U.S. business leaders.