Biden Wraps Up China Visit, Heads for Mongolia

Posted August 21st, 2011 at 7:20 pm (UTC-5)
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U.S. Vice President Joe Biden will visit Mongolia's capital Ulaanbaatar Monday after wrapping up his five-day visit to China.

During the short stop in Mongolia, Biden is expected to demonstrate U.S. support for democratic development in the central Asian country and praise growing diplomatic ties between the United States and Mongolia.

Japan is the third stop on Biden's Asian tour. He is scheduled to leave for Tokyo later Monday. A White House statement issued ahead of his trip says Biden will “express steadfast U.S. support for its close ally in the wake of the recent earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear emergency.” It says he will also thank U.S. civilian and military personnel who aided the disaster response.

While in China, Biden met with President Hu Jintao, Premier Wen Jiabao and other top officials for talks on a range of issues, especially economic ones. He praised China's economic growth, but also expressed confidence in the future of the U.S. economy, by far the world's largest.

Biden's visit comes less than two weeks after an unprecedented U.S. credit downgrade — a move that sparked global concerns about the safety of dollar assets.

He told university students in Chengdu, in Sichuan province Sunday that the United States has never defaulted and never will. He said Americans still hold 87 percent of the country's financial assets and close to 70 percent of all U.S. treasury bonds. This, he said, is a strong incentive to protect investment in the United States.

In response, China's official Xinhua news agency called Biden's reassurances “far from enough” to soothe concerns in China and other major markets. Xinhua's commentary called for concrete U.S. actions, and said Washington must “realize that confidence can not be established through mere rhetoric.”

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

Sunday afternoon, Biden and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping visited a Sichuan high school rebuilt after the deadly 2008 earthquake. The Qingchengshan school outside Chengdu was built with the post-quake assistance from the U.S. National Basketball Association.