By Glenn Kessler
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, February 23, 2009
BEIJING, Feb. 22 -- Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton on Sunday urged China to keep investing its substantial foreign-exchange reserves in U.S. Treasury securities, arguing that "we are truly going to rise or fall together."
China is the biggest foreign holder of U.S. debt, which helped finance the spending binge the United States went on before the current economic crisis. Some experts have expressed concern that China's substantial holding of U.S. debt gives it increased leverage in dealings with Washington because any halt in Chinese purchases would make it more difficult to finance the government bailout and stimulus packages.
Clinton, in unusually direct comments during an interview with China's Dragon TV before returning to Washington, said that reality made it an imperative for China to keep purchasing U.S. Treasury bonds, because otherwise the U.S. economy would not recover and China would suffer as well.
"Our economies are so intertwined," she said. "The Chinese know that in order to start exporting again to its biggest market . . . the United States has to take some drastic measures with the stimulus package. We have to incur more debt."
"The Chinese are recognizing our interconnection," Clinton added. "We are truly going to rise or fall together. By continuing to support American Treasury instruments, the Chinese are recognizing" that interconnection.
At a joint news conference with Clinton on Saturday, Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi sidestepped a question about whether China was looking for alternative investments for its foreign exchange reserves. He said China looks for safety, good value and liquidity for its investments.
Treasury bonds are "a good investment [and] a safe investment," Clinton told the interviewer Sunday.