- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 9, 2013

U.S. officials say recent statements by Chinese authorities indicate fear in Beijing that a U.S. government default would endanger China’s $1.3 trillion worth of investments in the United States.

State-controlled Chinese press accounts, a barometer for official government policies, presented limited coverage of the partial U.S. government shutdown and pending default in the debt ceiling debate.

Chinese Vice Finance Minister Zhu Guangyo said at a news conference Monday that the U.S. — as the world’s largest economy and a major supplier of reserve currency — needs to make sure creditors are protected.

“Safeguarding the debt is of vital importance to the economy of the U.S. and the world,” he told reporters in Beijing.

“This is the United States’ responsibility,” Mr. Zhu said, adding that resolving the issue is critical as the Oct. 17 deadline for raising the debt ceiling nears.

President Obama was asked this week about the worries of creditors like China and Japan, which has $1.1 trillion in U.S. debt holdings.

“I won’t disclose any specific conversations, but obviously my message to the world is the United States always has paid its bills, and it will do so again,” Mr. Obama said.

“But I think they’re not just looking at what I say. They’re looking at what Congress does, and that ultimately is up to” House Speaker JohnA. Boehner.

Mr. Obama dismissed foreign concerns, noting that democracies frequently have “tussles over the budget.”

Chinese press commentary on the financial crisis has included an Oct. 2 report that called the impasse a major worry and criticized the United States for years of “irresponsible spending.”

Another Chinese article said a U.S. default would pose a systemic risk to the financial system and produce volatility in world financial markets.

Most of China’s ruling elite, including government officials and state industrialists, has invested billions in U.S. markets, which they view as a secure financial oasis.

Chinese government concerns contrast with recent unofficial news outlets in China that view the U.S. government shutdown as an element of a desired democratic system.

The daily newspaper Nanfang Dushi Bao last week noted the “powerful society of the United States” for guaranteeing normality “even without the government.”

It said the shutdown is an extreme example of an inefficient two-party political system but said that was better than communist China’s “nontransparent government.”

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