Vice President Biden wrapped up a visit to China on Sunday that offered him extensive face-time with the country's expected future leader, Xi Jinping, and delivered a message of U.S. mutual interdependence with the world's second-largest economy.
Biden also made the case for continued U.S. economic vitality despite current budget woes and sought to reassure China's leaders and citizens about the safety of their assets in the U.S. following the downgrading of America's credit rating.
"You're safe," Biden told students in a question-and-answer session following a speech at Sichuan University in the southwestern city of Chengdu.
China's concerns over its $1.2 trillion in U.S. Treasury holdings have been featured prominently in the media, underscored by squabbles over raising the debt ceiling and downgrading of America's credit rating.
An official Xinhua News Agency commentary on Biden's visit said Sunday that China would be looking for actions, rather than words, from the U.S. government to restore confidence in the American economy by gradually reducing the deficit, cutting debt and promoting economic growth.
"What is especially important is to let the world see that the U.S. government and relevant departments have the determination, ability and political aspiration to take actions to resolve these complicated issues," the commentary said.
Biden and Xi, China's vice president who is expected to begin taking over the top leadership next year, later visited a high school that was rebuilt after the devastating 2008 earthquake, partly with U.S. government and private assistance.
Biden said the U.S. and China both need global stability, including preventing Iran and North Korea from obtaining nuclear weapons. He also reasserted that the U.S. will remain a Pacific nation in the future, saying that the American presence has benefited regional stability and allowed China to focus on economic development.
Biden said he recognized frustrations among many Chinese business people and officials at the time needed to obtain visas to visit the U.S. and said Washington was working on improvements. Addressing complaints over restrictions on high-tech exports to China, he said Washington had struck 1,000 items off the blacklist.
But he said U.S. companies continue to face major investment barriers in China, a frequent complaint in the U.S. business community here. He said U.S. businesses were locked out of entire fields and face "restrictions that no other major economy imposes on us or so broadly."
Biden departs this morning for Mongolia before heading to Japan.