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Chinese in two minds on US shutdown

Monday, 14 Oct 2013 | 7:07 AM ET
US shutdown: China weighs in
Monday, 14 Oct 2013 | 9:16 PM ET
As America's shutdown drags on, CNBC's China correspondent Eunice Yoon reports that China feels frustrated that the U.S. is playing what it sees as a political game with the global economy.

As the U.S. shutdown enters its third week and the debt default deadline grows ever nearer, both China's government and its population have been paying close attention to the goings-on in Washington.

Much of that has to do with China being the biggest foreign holder of U.S. Treasury bonds - about $1.28 trillion, according to U.S. government data.

The government in Beijing said last week in a commentary on China's official news agency that the impasse in Washington was a sign that the world should consider "de-Americanizing."

(Read more: As shutdown drags on, is more global easing coming?)

"A new world order should be put in place, according to which all nations, big or small, poor or rich, can have their key interests respected and protected on an equal footing," the commentary said.

However, the population's take on the U.S. shutdown is far more varied: while some show a similar level of frustration and anger as their government, others argue that the ordeal is simply a good representation of democracy.

Newspapers in China carry the U.S. shutdown on their front covers, with headlines warning of the clock ticking and that the debt ceiling debate would ruin the country's credibility.

(Read more: UK's Osborne woos China with shared investment)

"That's our hard earned cash" one man told CNBC, referring to China's ownership of U.S. Treasury bonds, adding, "I hope they can talk it out."

Another man told CNBC: "Chinese politicians need to do something about this!" The statement last week from the Chinese government was perhaps a veiled warning to Democrats and Republicans to sort out their differences, with a warning about America losing its standing a hopeful catalyst towards change.

Of course, with China amassing large amounts in dollar reserves, there is not much the country can do other than invest in U.S. Treasury bonds for the time being.

"Of course, people,China, Chinese government wants to diversify their investment, but still I guess right now, U.S. Treasury bonds still the top choice for them," Zhao Longkai, a professor at Peking University told CNBC.

However, while many Chinese people remain bewildered by the deadlock in Washington, others - particularly on social media - have highlighted the strength of American democracy, especially when compared to the one-party structure in Beijing.

(Read more: Why Chinese actually envy the US government shutdown)

As reported by GlobalPost, many Chinese users of the country's Twitter-like Sina Weibo said that the shutdown showed that elected representatives did not treat the issues at hand - such as taxes, debts, and expenses involving taxpayer's money - lightly, and that in China open disagreement and debate was never witnessed within the ruling Communist party.

"America sees itself as a superpower," one person told CNBC. "Now we know they're just like everybody else."

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