STEVE CHIOTAKIS: Economists in China today have been publishing critical articles about U.S. debt and credit. No coincidence, it’s the day Vice President Joe Biden is due to arrive in China on a five day trip there. China’s our biggest foreign creditor and Biden’s hoping to reassure the Chinese government that the Obama administration has a firm grip on economic policy after S&P downgraded the U.S. credit rating. The BBC’s Michael Bristow is with us now from Beijing. Hi Michael.
MICHAEL BRISTOW: Hello.
CHIOTAKIS: What is the vice-president expecting to get from his visit — economically in China?
BRISTOW: The economic crisis which has hit the world, hit America over the last few weeks is going to be a hot topic — particularly all the money, $1 trillion that China has loaned the United States. China wants to make sure that that investment is safe. And officials, in their meeting with Joe Biden, will be looking for reassurance that the United States won’t be doing anything to undermine those investments.
CHIOTAKIS: I know the vice-president is going to be meeting with his Chinese counterpart, but unlike Biden, China’s vice president is in line to just become the president of China, without an election. Will we learn anything about how China’s economic policies would change under new leadership?
BRISTOW: I don’t think so because the Chinese government play their cards very close to their chest, but certainly I think it will provide an opportunity to meet Vice President Xi Jinping — he’ll be able to get some kind of impression of what kind of person he is.
CHIOTAKIS: How symbolic, do you think, is this visit to China for the vice-president?
BRISTOW: Any contact between senior leaders of the United States and China is important. After all, we’re looking at two countries that are largely going to shape the way the world is in the 21st century, so they’re still really trying to get to know each other so finding out, particularly from the U.S. point of view, finding out what China really wants to do in the next few years.
CHIOTAKIS: The BBC’s Michael Bristow in Beijing. Michael, thank you.
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