Vice President Joe Biden said he “didn’t come to explain a damn thing” on his visit to China, adding that the country’s economy had become the world’s second biggest due to the stabilizing presence of U.S. troops in Asia.
Some media had suggested the purpose of his trip to China was to “explain our economic situation,” Biden told U.S. troops at Yokota airbase in Japan today. “I didn’t come to explain a damn thing.”
Biden, 68, spent four days traveling in China with counterpartXi Jinping, who is the frontrunner to succeed PresidentHu Jintao in 2013. The vice president said he made the visit to the biggest foreign holder of U.S. debt to build a relationship with Xi and wanted to make clear that the U.S. economy is strong and that the nation is still a Pacific power.
Biden said he spent “an unusual four days” in China. “Unusual in the sense that the man who’s likely to become the next president of China spent four days with me, he traveled the country with me. They are very anxious to understand who we are, where we are and wanting personal relationships.”
While in public Biden made statements of reassurance about the stability of the U.S. economy and the safety of Treasuries, he said the issue wasn’t a major focus of his private talks with Chinese leaders.
‘What’s Going On?’
“There were no probing questions about our economy from them,” Biden told reporters traveling with him to Japan from Mongolia on the final leg of his three-nation Asia tour. He said he “didn’t sense it a bit that they needed reassurance about our economic stability.”
Biden said Chinese leaders asked, “what’s going on?” not “assure me now, we’re worried.” He said the Chinese don’t view the U.S. as a declining economic power.
During meetings in Beijing, Biden and Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao both expressed confidence in the U.S. economy, with the Chinese premier saying its stability “is in the interest of the whole world.”
Biden said he told China’s leaders that their economy is thriving because of the U.S. military presence in the region.
The U.S. is “a stabilizing force in the Pacific Basin,” he told the troops. “An American focus in Asia is only going to grow in the years to come as Asia plays an ever-increasing role, particularly in the global economy but also in international affairs.”
The U.S. has about 38,000 service personnel stationed at bases in Japan. “You are the finest warriors that the world has ever seen,” he said at the base. “Every other military in the world watches what you can do.”
The vice president later headed for Hawaii.
To contact the reporter on this story: Kate Andersen Brower in Yokota at firstname.lastname@example.org