US Vice President Joseph Biden begins his six-day tour of China

Updated On: Aug 18, 2011

US Vice President Joseph Biden landed in Beijing on Wednesday evening, marking the start of his six-day official visit to China. This is his first trip to East Asia in his capacity as Vice President. He last visited China 32 years ago, when he was part of the first US delegation to China following the normalization of China-US relations.

Biden's national security advisor Antony Blinken stated that this trip is part of efforts to “renew and intensify the US role in Asia”. He added that “One of the primary purposes of the trip is to get to know China's future leadership, to build a relationship with Vice President Xi, and to discuss with him and other Chinese leaders the full breadth of issues in the US-China relationship."

Indeed, one of the top priorities on Biden’s agenda is to forge ties with Vice President Xi Jinping, who is expected to succeed President Hu Jintao as Communist Party chief next year. The two sides are also likely to discuss issues such as US arms sales to Taiwan.

Report & Analysis: Biden's China visit to focus on economy [CBC news, 17 August 2011]
Report: Biden's trip to 3 Asian nations to renew US role in Asia [China Daily, 16 August 2011]
Report & Analysis: Biden to build rapport with China VP [China Daily, 16 August 2011] 
Opinion: Will Biden's China visit boost China-U.S. relations? [People’s Daily, 18 August 2011]

Additionally, Biden will have to quell China’s concerns about the ailing US economy. Xinhua News Agency reported that "Biden is expected to assure Chinese leaders of Washington's capacity, will and commitment to tackle its fiscal and economic challenges".

Following Standard & Poor’s recent downgrade of US credit rating, Chinese state media have accused Washington of taking on reckless fiscal policies which have jeopardized Chinese assets. Xinhua News Agency reported that the “runaway” US debt is “a ticking time bomb”.

Beijing is also concerned that possible quantitative easing by the US Federal Reserve will fuel inflation, boost commodities prices, and erode the value of China’s estimated US$1.2 trillion in Treasury debt.

China, the largest foreign holder of US Treasuries, has repeatedly appealed to the US government to protect foreign investors and stabilize the dollar. People’s Daily, the official newspaper of the Chinese Communist Party, reported that China wants assurance that its holding of US Treasury bonds and dollar assets will remain safe.

Report & Analysis: UPDATE 3-China state media press U.S. debt as Biden visits [Reuters, 17 August 2011]
Report: Biden's message to China: Your money is safe with us [TODAY, 18 August 2011]

Biden’s visit marks a deepening of US-China relations. Following Chinese President Hu’s state visit to the US in January this year, both countries have expressed commitment toward building better bilateral relations. A series of planned reciprocal visits between Biden and Chinese Vice President Xi have been discussed, and Biden’s China tour is the first of these planned visits. Chinese Vice President Xi is planning on visiting Washington later this year.

Report: U.S. vice president kicks off China visit [Xinhua, 17 August 2011] 
Report & Analysis: Will Biden's visit turn a new leaf for China-U.S. ties? [Xinhua, 16 August 2011]
Report & Analysis: Biden's significant China tour after 32 years [Xinhua, 16 August 2011]

After his tour of China, Biden will spend one day in Mongolia, where he will meet with Mongolian Prime Minister Sukhbaatar Batbold and President Tsakhia Elbegdorj. He will also visit Japan for two days where he is expected to meet with Prime Minister Naoto Kan.

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