China's vice president and heir apparent on Friday gave a ringing endorsement of the resilience of the debt-ridden American economy during a second day of talks with his U.S. counterpart Joe Biden, according to Reuters.
The upbeat tone of Xi Jinping, 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 creditor.
His were the first comments by a senior Chinese leader on the state of the U.S. 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 U.S. government in spurring growth and jobs, cutting (the) budget deficit, properly handling the debt problem, and preserving the confidence of global investors."
Beijing wants Biden to assure it that China's vast holdings of dollar assets including U.S. 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.
Biden acknowledged that China has legitimate concerns about its access to U.S. markets, just as Washington is worried about problems U.S. firms face in China.
Separately, a U.S. official said the United States will announce nearly $1 billion in commercial deals between U.S. companies and China