Los Angeles, California–(ENEWSPF)–February 17, 2012 – 1:00 P.M. PST
VICE PRESIDENT BIDEN: Thank you very much. Mr. Mayor, let me begin by thanking you for your hospitality. It’s good to be back in Los Angeles, and I want to thank Governor Jerry Brown for hosting us as well today.
It’s an honor to join you in welcoming Vice President Xi and all of those who have traveled from China to be here, from the provinces as well as the official delegation.
I was asked today what it’s like to spend so much time with Vice President Xi, both in China and here, and I indicated then and I’ll say it again — it’s been a great pleasure getting to know him personally.
The Vice President and I have gotten to spend more time with one another than I think either of us anticipated when both our Presidents indicated and instructed us to get to know one another better.
We had the opportunity to spend some time together last year in Italy when we both were there representing our governments to celebrate the unification of Italy at its 150th anniversary. And the Vice President was kind enough to host me for four days in China, both in Beijing and traveling to Chengdu with me.
And I can say with real sincerity that I’ve been looking forward to the opportunity to return the hospitality that he has shown to me, and this is the capstone to that visit with he and I here in Los Angeles.
I suspect all of you in this audience have traveled a great deal, and I must tell you, the thing I have come to admire about my colleague is his incredible physical stamina. (Laughter.) Since he arrived in the United States on Monday, he started off with Dr. Kissinger and Zbig Brzezinski and a number of very serious American diplomats and strategists, and the next day he spent I think 13 or 14 hours with me, starting early in the morning and going straight through to a dinner at my home with members of our Cabinet and others ending late that night.
And Governor, the next morning he left early to go to Muscatine, Iowa, and Secretary Clinton and I said, better him than us. (Laughter.) I think he got more delegates than either of us in Muscatine. (Laughter and applause.) But I must — I’m just telling you, it’s the measure of the man. He wanted to go back and reacquaint himself with and thank the people who had been hospitable to him 27 years earlier.
And then just to prove his stamina he came to Los Angeles, and from here he leaves from Los Angeles to Ireland on his way to Turkey. (Laughter.) The only place I can really help him is in Ireland. I can get elected there. (Laughter.)
Mr. Vice President, you and I have spent a substantial amount of time together, and that’s fairly rare in modern diplomacy. And let me add that we’ve all been touched — and I mean this sincerely — by your interest in our country, your desire to meet our people, and by the personal relationships you’re forging here. It’s made a deep impression.
As the former governors of California are in the room, as well as the present governor can tell you, there are no people in the world that know better than the people of California, that the United States of America is a Pacific nation.
For generations, Californians have looked to the Asian-Pacific region as a critical element of their prosperity. And now, it is critical to our efforts, all of America’s efforts, to put Americans back to work and expand opportunity.
I would venture to say, if we added up the hours in the last six months, the Vice President and I have probably spent 20 hours alone in conversation. And we’ve pointed out that seven of our 15 largest export markets — America’s export markets — are in Asia, with China now the foremost among them. Last year alone, the United States exported to China more than $100 billion worth of goods and services, supporting hundreds of thousands of American jobs. And those jobs that are tied to exports are quality, high-paying jobs, estimated to be worth more than 15 percent more than all other jobs in America.
And Mr. Vice President, as we’ve discussed, the faster the U.S. economy grows, the more Chinese citizens will benefit as well. So there is a great potential for both of us in working together to increase and solidify this relationship. The Vice President has been straightforward in the changes he’d like to see, and I have been equally as straightforward in the changes that I’d like to — we’d like to see in our trade and economic relationship.
The Vice President indicated that China wants to invest more in the United States. And we’re working to make that easier, and there’s a whole lot of governors here who are looking forward to that. (Laughter.) And thanks to the great work of our ambassador, Gary Locke — and Gary, stand up so everybody can see you. (Applause.) Ambassador Locke was the Secretary of Commerce, as well as the — when he was governor of the state of Washington. His hallmark is getting things done, and getting them done quickly.
Under the ambassador’s leadership, we are now issuing more than a million visas a year — faster than ever before — to Chinese students, to tourists, as well as to businesspeople. (Applause.) I assume that came from a student. (Laughter.) And I’ve explained the things that we need to see for American companies and workers. Here too, we’re making real progress.
We very much want to see more of our businesses able to sell their goods and services in China. And Vice President Xi has committed to help make that possible. In this recent visit, China has opened its market to American auto insurers and has taken concrete steps to enforce intellectual property rights, and it has plans to reform its tax system, which will help increase demand for American goods and services by lowering taxes on so-called luxury goods.
As President Obama and I have told the Vice President and all of you — and many of you have witnessed personally — China has made the most remarkable progress in the shortest amount of time than maybe any country in history. And we in our administration and in this country welcome those gains. And I think American business leaders in this room will agree that we all welcome the competition. I know American workers welcome the competition. It not only pushes our companies to develop better products and services and our government to craft better policies, but it encourages our workers to be more cooperative [sic] and to work even harder, increasing productivity.
But the crux of our discussions is that competition only benefits everyone if the rules to the game are fair and followed. So we will continue to work with the Vice President and the Chinese government to make sure that everyone is playing by the same rules on a level playing field. I strongly believe, and I think Vice President Xi does as well, that the honest, sustained dialogue we’ve had this week can and will build a stronger relationship that benefits both our nations and our people.
And ladies and gentlemen, it is now my great pleasure to introduce to you the Vice President of China, a man you are going to learn a great deal more about for a good number of years, ladies and gentlemen, my friend, Vice President Xi. (Applause.)
1:15 P.M. PST