US & Canada

Joe Biden visits China for economic talks

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Media captionChina's economy thrives on selling goods around the world

US Vice-President Joe Biden has arrived in China for talks likely to focus on the economy after the downgrading of US debt and ensuing market turmoil.

China is the US government's biggest foreign creditor, holding $1tn (£608bn) of debt, and has called on it to do more to reduce its budget deficit.

Officials say Mr Biden will explain the finer points of a "very strong deficit reduction package" agreed by Congress.

He will also talk of "tremendous mutual interest" in global economic recovery.

Vice-President Biden is hoping to reassure Beijing that President Barack Obama's administration has a handle on economic policy in the wake of a downgrade by ratings agency Standard & Poor's, says the BBC's Steve Kingstone in Washington.

China's state-run media was scathing over the recent political showdown in the US over how to increase the debt ceiling and avert a financial default.

State media criticised the US "addiction to debt", calling it irresponsible and demanding that America live within its means.

Human rights

Mr Biden is visiting at the invitation of his counterpart, Xi Jinping, as the Obama administration seeks to strengthen ties with the next generation of Chinese leaders.

Mr Xi is widely expected to take over the chairmanship of the Chinese Communist Party in 2012 and to be formally anointed as president in March 2013.

This visit, which was agreed in January, will pave the way for Mr Xi to visit Washington later in the year.

In recent years, the US and China have been at loggerheads over a number of issues including trade flows and the value of the Chinese yuan.

From the American side, there are continuing concerns about China's currency - which is seen as artificially weak - and over a sharp increase in military spending by Beijing.

In recent months there have been claims of cyber-attacks emanating from China, while long-standing differences over human rights and Tibet are likely to surface.

But overall, Washington insists this is fundamentally a partnership and dismisses suggestions that US-China relations are a zero-sum game, our correspondent says.

The US vice-president's official five-day visit to the region will also take in Japan and Mongolia.

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