US Vice President Joe Biden comes face to face with China’s economic boom Saturday after Chinese leaders expressed confidence in a flagging American economy dependent on credit from the Asian giant.
Biden was scheduled to depart Beijing for Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan province, where nearly 200 of the Fortune 500 largest firms in the world have invested.
But human rights activists said a heavy-handed crackdown had been imposed on dissent to co-incide with his trip to China.
In Chengdu, a city of 14 million people, the US vice president will share an informal meal with his counterpart Xi Jinping — who is slated to become China’s top leader next year — and address students at Sichuan University.
He will also witness reconstruction efforts following the 2008 Sichuan earthquake, which left over 87,000 people dead or missing, while seeing the economic boom in Chengdu.
In a Friday meeting with Biden, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao expressed confidence in the US economy after the historic downgrade of the United States’ top-notch credit rating earlier this month.
China is the largest foreign holder of US debt, and Biden has used his first official visit to the Asian nation since becoming vice president to reassure the country’s leaders their investment remains safe.
China and the United States have signed deals worth nearly $1 billion during Biden’s trip, according to a US official who requested anonymity.
His visit is aimed partly at building ties with Xi, who remains virtually unknown in US policy circles, and also comes amid growing concern in the United States about China’s rights record.
Biden did raise human rights concerns during his meetings with Chinese leaders, US officials said, but they refused to go into details of whether any individual cases were brought up.
Following Biden’s stop-over in Sichuan, he will visit Mongolia and close US ally Japan.