Biden to Talk Economy, Currency During Visit to China

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WASHINGTON -- Vice President Joe Biden is expected to emphasize China's unwillingness to allow its currency to rise in value against the dollar, aides said ahead of Biden's trip to China, Japan and Mongolia, beginning Tuesday.

U.S. officials said in a conference call ahead of the trip that the U.S. has seen some appreciation in the exchange rate with China but they are not satisfied with where it stands. They said Biden wants to emphasize the rate because it's important not only for China but for emerging markets and U.S. exports. Biden will also discuss the currencies of its other major trading partners.

With China serving as America's biggest foreign creditors, officials there are sure to express concerns about the U.S. economy and the country's ability to manage its debt and deficits.

Obama administration officials are downplaying any suggestions that Biden will have to reassure the Chinese about America's creditworthiness. Aides say Biden will tell Chinese leaders that the U.S. is committed to tackling its fiscal challenges, and will emphasize aspects of the recent deal to increase the U.S. debt ceiling that the administration believes are good first steps toward long-term deficit reduction.

"The United States has the capacity, will and commitment to tackle our major fiscal challenges," said Lael Brainard, the Treasury Department's undersecretary for international affairs.

China, the world's second-largest economy, owns $1.2 trillion of U.S. Treasury debt, the largest holding by any foreign country. China has called the debate over raising the U.S. debt ceiling a sign of political crisis in Washington and has said that overspending on foreign military adventures was to blame for much of America's current financial woes.

Despite China's concerns, financial experts say U.S. economic woes -- even with the recent downgrade of the U.S. credit rating by Standard and Poor's -- was unlikely to be a deterrent to China taking on even more Treasury debt.

U.S. officials previewing Biden's trip emphasized that China has its own economic concerns, including an aging work force and questions about how to transform from an export-driven economy to one boosted by domestic demand.

Human rights, Taiwan and Tibet are also expected to be on Biden's agenda in China.

Biden is heading to China at the invitation of China's vice president, Xi Jinping. Biden's national security adviser, Tony Blinken, said the vice president's meetings with his Chinese counterpart are part of an effort by the U.S. to build relationships with the next generation of Chinese leaders.

Biden is due to arrive in Beijing Wednesday. His four-day trip to China will also include a stop in the southwest China city of Chengdu, where he will visit a high school and deliver a speech on U.S.-China relations.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.