March 5, 2021

Chinese Premier Sounds Confident Note on U.S. Economy

Meeting in Zhongnanhai, the Chinese leadership’s compound in central Beijing, Mr. Wen praised Mr. Biden for sending a clear message that the United States would ensure that China’s vast holdings of U.S. Treasury notes were safe.

“In spite of the difficulties facing the United States economy at present, I have full confidence that the United States will overcome these difficulties and get its economy back on the track of healthy growth,” he said. “The prosperity and stability of the United States is in the interest of the whole world.”

Mr. Biden assured Mr. Wen that “no one has ever won betting against the U. S. economy,” and then added, referring to China’s Treasury holdings, “I want to be clear that you have nothing to worry about.”

The Chinese have made Washington’s rising debt and concerns about its economic strength a central topic in Mr. Biden’s private discussions here, and Mr. Biden has repeatedly offered a rosy prognosis for the economy in public.

News reports in advance of his four-day visit stressed the growing concern among ordinary Chinese citizens that China’s holdings in Treasury notes, worth at least $1.1 trillion, would lose their value should the United States be unable to resolve its fiscal problems.

Mr. Biden has held talks with Vice President Xi Jinping, the presumed successor to President Hu Jintao, and Wu Bangguo, head of China’s National People’s Congress. His meeting Friday with Mr. Wen was followed by a session with Mr. Hu.

Earlier Friday, in a second day of meetings with Mr. Biden, Mr. Xi forecast further strong growth for the Chinese economy and endorsed the long-term prospects of the American economy, saying it was “highly resilient and has a high capacity for self-repair.”

But Mr. Xi also called for new measures to restore confidence in global financial markets, which he said were “undergoing drastic fluctuations” and faced destabilizing forces. As the vice president spoke, Chinese stock indices dropped for the fifth straight week, reflecting growing worries that the United States and other major Western economies are slipping back into recession.

In their remarks Friday morning, the two vice presidents said that stronger business relations between their countries were not only good for their economies but also helped deepen diplomatic ties. But they also pointed to burrs in the relationships, with Mr. Xi urging the United States to lift restrictions on exports of advanced technology and to remove what he said were barriers to Chinese acquisitions of American businesses.

Chinese investment in the United States, while still small, has grown rapidly in recent years. But some high-profile Chinese purchases of American assets have foundered in the face of political opposition or U.S. national security concerns.

Mr. Biden said Chinese citizens also found it too hard to obtain American visas, and vowed to address that problem. Echoing the major complaint of American executives here, he also urged the Chinese to make it easier for American businesses to operate in Chinese markets.

Foreign corporations often complain that they face official and unspoken restrictions on their ability to compete with domestic firms.

On Thursday, Mr. Biden and Chinese leaders emphasized the need for economic cooperation at a time when the global economy is struggling with new crises. But a fistfight at an American-versus-Chinese goodwill basketball game at night cast a shadow on the day’s diplomacy.

It was unclear if the melee at the game would have any lasting effect on the trip, but it was evident that the news was spreading fast, with videos and photos quickly posted on the Web. The fisticuffs erupted at a close-fought game in Beijing between the Georgetown Hoyas and the Bayi Rockets, a team made up of members of the People’s Liberation Army.

Sarah E. Burton, an American spectator, described the fight as a “fist-furious brawl” that erupted after at least five on-court scuffles. The game was called off.

The Hoyas’ trip to China was not related to Mr. Biden’s mission, but after arriving Wednesday, Mr. Biden did attend a game in which the Hoyas crushed a team from Shanxi Province.

This is Mr. Biden’s first trip to China since taking office. A main purpose of the trip, which includes three full days of meetings in Beijing and the western city of Chengdu, is for Mr. Biden and other American officials to build a relationship with Mr. Xi.

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