Biden to Meet Hu & Wen on Asia Trip

Joe Biden will visit Beijing during a tour of East Asia later this month, at the invitation of his Chinese counterpart, Vice President Xi Jingping. From WhiteHouse.gov:

The Vice President will depart for China, Mongolia, and Japan on August 16, 2011. He will visit China at the invitation of Vice President Xi Jinping – the first of the planned reciprocal visits between the Vice Presidents announced during President Hu Jintao’s state visit to Washington earlier this year. While in China, the Vice President will meet with Vice President Xi and other Chinese leaders, including President Hu and Premier Wen Jiabao, to consult on a broad range of bilateral, regional, and global issues. The Vice President will also visit the city of Chengdu, in China’s Southwest. In Ulaanbaatar, the Vice President will underscore our support for Mongolia’s two decades of democratic development and our growing economic ties. In Japan, the Vice President will express steadfast U.S. support for its close ally in the wake of the recent earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear emergency. The Vice President will thank U.S. civilian and military personnel for their assistance in responding to the disaster, as well as highlight Japan’s resilience during the recovery and rebuilding process.

The visit had already been the centre of speculation regarding US arms sales to Taiwan. From the Taipei Times last month:

Biden will visit Beijing in the middle of next month and is certain to be closely questioned and warned about US arms sales to Taiwan.

A “senior US official” reportedly told the Chinese-language news agency DW News that Biden would tell Beijing that the US would agree to update Taiwan’s aging 144 F-16A/B aircraft and that a formal announcement would be made in September.

There has been widespread speculation over the past month that the upgrade will go ahead, but that the sale of the much more advanced F-16C/Ds will not be approved.

However, that speculation has not been confirmed by anyone in a position to know.

An editorial in the People’s Daily (first published in the Chinese-language Global Times last week) urged Beijing to punish Washington financially should it approve the F-16 sales:

Now is the time for China to use its “financial weapon” to teach the United States a lesson if it moves forward with a plan to sale arms to Taiwan. In fact, China has never wanted to use its holdings of U.S. debt as a weapon. It is the United States that is forcing it to do so ….

The essence of the problem is that some U.S. Congress members hold a contemptuous attitude toward the core interests of China, which shows that they will never respect China. China-U.S. relations will always be constrained by these people and will continue along a roller coaster pattern if China does not beat them until they feel the pain.