China’s Xi confident of US economic strength

BEIJING (AP) — China’s vice president expressed confidence in American economic strength as he and visiting U.S. Vice President Joe Biden met Friday with corporate executives from the two countries.

Biden’s visit is aimed at learning about Vice President Xi Jinping, who is expected to become leader of China’s ruling Communist Party next year. But it has been overshadowed by U.S. economic uncertainty and Beijing’s anxiety about the safety of its vast holdings of Treasury debt.

“The U.S. economy is highly resilient and has a strong capacity to repair itself,” Xi said at a round-table meeting with businesspeople. “We believe that the U.S. economy will achieve even better development as it rises to challenges.”

The meeting was aimed at enhancing cooperation amid complaints by foreign companies about Chinese market barriers and by Beijing about U.S. export restrictions. It included executives of General Motors Co., Coca Cola Co., Caterpillar Inc., Bank of China Ltd., computer maker Lenovo Group and appliance brand Haier Group.

Biden acknowledged China’s complaints about the difficulty of obtaining U.S. visas and noted foreign unhappiness about limitations on access to its markets, saying, “changes need to take place here in China as well.”

During the meeting, officials and businesspeople discussed complaints by companies from both countries about access to each others’ markets, said Richard Lavin, group president for Peoria, Illinois-based Caterpillar. He said the atmosphere was “very positive” but declined to give details of comments by Xi and other Chinese officials.

“We talked about restrictions inside China that make it problematic for U.S. investors,” said Lavin. “U.S. representatives made commitments about continuing to open the United States to Chinese investment.”

China’s rapid economic growth and rising military might have led both sides to call for better communication to solve issues that could flare into bigger problems and cooperation on issues including the economic crisis and the environment.

On Thursday, Biden expressed the “fond hope” the trip would lead to stronger personal relationships with Chinese leaders.

On Saturday, Xi and Biden travel to Chengdu, capital of Sichuan province, which suffered a massive earthquake in 2008. Biden will speak to high school students Sunday and visit quake reconstruction projects.

Beijing has appealed repeatedly to Washington to avoid taking steps in response to its economic malaise that might weaken the dollar or erode the value of China’s $1.2 trillion in Treasury debt and other U.S. assets.

Ahead of Biden’s arrival, state media carried comments by Chinese analysts appealing to Washington to avoid further stimulus moves by the Federal Reserve and to protect foreign investors in the United States.

Before the start of Friday’s meeting, the president of Bank of China expressed hope for a stable dollar. He said 57 percent of the bank’s $200 billion in foreign holdings is in dollar-based assets.

“We hope the U.S. dollar will remain stable,” Li Lihui told reporters. “We are a little bit concerned, but we are confident that the U.S. government can solve its economic problems.”

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Associated Press writer Christopher Bodeen contributed.

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