China's top daily advises US to avoid fiscal cliff or lose 'soft and hard power'

PHOTO: China's top daily advises US to avoid fiscal cliff or lose 'soft and hard power'
A graph is seen on a screen as Chairman of US President Barack Obama’s Council of economic Advisers Alan Krueger speaks during a press briefing at the White House in Washington.

BEIJING - China's top newspaper scolded the United States on Friday for shirking responsibility as a superpower by prolonging uncertainty over how it will avoid a fiscal cliff that could put the world economy at risk.

"American politicians should understand that a 'self-created' recession will gravely erode both the soft and hard power of the United States," the People's Daily, a newspaper regarded as a mouthpiece of the ruling Communist Party, said.

"A country such as the United States that is accustomed to telling other nations to be responsible, should, on the one big problem concerning the future of the global economy, show itself to be a responsible power."

China's latest criticism of its major trade partner followed disappointment that talks between Democrats and Republicans in Washington on Thursday had failed to reach agreement over how to prevent the United States toppling off a fiscal cliff.

The US economy may sink into recession unless it averts US$600 billion (S$732.6 billion) of tax hikes and spending cuts due at the start of 2013 unless agreement is reached over how to shrink the US fiscal deficit.

"Although the chance of the United States really falling over a fiscal cliff is not big, frequent political bickering is disturbing the world," said the commentary, published under a pen name often used to give the newspaper's views on foreign policy issues, "Zhong Sheng," which means "Voice of China."

"This proves the US political system has problems and lacks the responsibility that a big nation should have," it said, adding that the world is "no stranger to the negative impact on the global economy owing to US policy mistakes."

The United States is the world's second-largest buyer of Chinese exports, after Europe which is mired in a debt crisis.

A US economy in recession would be a blow to China, already trapped in its slowest annual growth in 13 years this year at around an estimated 7.5 percent as export growth crumbles and domestic demand slackens.