- The Washington Times - Sunday, August 14, 2011


The new American ambassador to China tried to calm Beijing’s anxiety over its massive U.S. debt holdings, insisting on Sunday the investment is safe despite the U.S. economic crisis.

Gary Locke, in his first news conference since arriving in China on Friday, noted that traders have begun buying U.S. Treasury bonds “over the past several days.”

“So it’s a clear indication that investment in the United States is safe, secure, and the economy, while having its challenges, is still strong,” he said.

Some Chinese commentators in the state-controlled media complained last week over the wild swings in the U.S. stock market after the Standard & Poor’s credit-ratings firm downgraded U.S. debt.

Zhou Qi of the Chinese Academy of Social Scientists told the China Daily that Mr. Locke will have the “responsibility to relieve the anxiety in China toward U.S. debt.” He predicted a “gloomy economic future” for the United States.

China holds more than $1 trillion in U.S. debt, about one-third of the outstanding Treasury bills, China Daily said.

In his news conference, Mr. Locke said one of his goals as ambassador is to improve U.S.-Chinese diplomatic relations.

“The United States and China have a profoundly important and complex diplomatic and economic bilateral relationship - one with challenges, no question, but one which also holds great promise for expanded cooperation and collaboration,” he said.

Mr. Locke, formerly President Obama’s secretary of commerce, is used to dealing with Chinese officials on trade disputes.

Mr. Locke added that he is busy preparing for a visit by Vice President Joseph R. Biden, who is due in Beijing on Monday. Mr. Biden also will visit Mongolia and Japan.

“The vice president was one of the first U.S. senators to visit China back in 1979, and we look forward to welcoming him back,” Mr. Locke said.

Mr. Biden traveled to China shortly after the United States established diplomatic relations with the Chinese communist government.

Mr. Locke, who was flanked by his wife, Mona, and their three children, said he was humbled and honored to be the first Chinese-American to serve as U.S. ambassador to China. The 61-year-old diplomat is the son of Chinese immigrants.

“I can only imagine just how proud my dad, Jimmy, who passed away in January, would be for his son … to represent the United States in the land of his and my mother’s birth,” he said.

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