From Chinese bloggers to European central bankers, the world is watching the U.S. government shutdown with a mixture of bewilderment and growing nervousness that any debt default could hit struggling economies.

The effects of the dramatic spending freeze have rippled around the globe, paralysing a leading earthquake alert system, forcing American scientists to pull out of international conferences and leading an embarrassed President Barack Obama to postpone visits to two Asian countries.

In emerging superpower China, a one-party state where legislative deadlock holds little fear for the Communist rulers, the official Xinhua news agency said the situation had once again brought to the fore "the ugly side of partisan politics in Washington".

"Though its immediate impact looks limited, the damage will multiply if the drama drags on for days or even weeks, arousing concerns over its spillover effect," it said in a commentary, referring to the US economy.

Chinese social media users took a largely mocking tone in response to the first US government shutdown in 17 years.

"Shutdown! What about the money China put in there?" posted one user on Sina Weibo, a Chinese version of Twitter, a reference to Beijing's massive purchases of US Treasury debt.

While global markets have so far been relatively resilient, there are growing jitters about the impact on the US economy at a time of heightened uncertainty over a possible winding-down of the Federal Reserve's massive stimulus measures.

Apart from reaching a budget deal to end the shutdown, Congress must agree within two weeks to raise the $16.7 trillion US debt ceiling -- or risk a default on government debt.

"If the US actually defaults on its debt, that might send a signal to markets that the United States is no longer a credible borrower, and given how much debt there is sloshing around in the American system, that could be catastrophic," said David Smith, a lecturer at the University of Sydney's United States Studies Centre.

There were signs of mounting nervousness in emerging economies that have borne the brunt of recent market jitters over the expected tapering of US quantitative easing.

The US shutdown "is highly unfortunate for the rest of the world, as even countries like the Philippines are taken on a wild economic ride because of the political game of chicken in Washington," Philippine Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima said in a statement.

He appealed to the United States to resolve the stalemate over raising the debt ceiling -- a particular concern to Asian countries including China and Japan, which are major holders of US Treasuries.

"A US default, unimaginable for most of history yet now in the realm of the possible because of current political circumstances, can only lead to unprecedented chaos in the global financial markets," Purisima warned.

The Indian Express newspaper called it a "depressingly familiar chicken dance in Washington". In Japan -- where TV channels have shown images of closed monuments such as the Statue of Liberty -- the Nikkei business daily lamented a "pointless political conflict".

"This political mishandling must not destroy the buds of growth that we see for the US and global economies," it said.

In Europe, where recession-hit economies are struggling to get back on their feet after years of turmoil, finance chiefs expressed concern about the threat to the fragile recovery.

The US shutdown "is a risk if it is protracted... it would be a risk not only for the US, but also the world economy," said European Central Bank chief Mario Draghi.

While US visa and passport operations are unaffected, the crisis in Washington has forced hundreds of thousands of federal workers to stay at home, closed museums and national parks and put much scientific research on hold.

One US researcher who travelled 30 hours to Perth in Australia for a science conference found himself barred from presenting his work on Parkinson's disease.

"It's actually a federal offence if I do go ahead and give the talk or even continue attending the conference," Michael Lazarou told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

"I had prepared for such a long time to come here and give this talk -- all that effort and it goes to waste now."

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  • 'Hands Off My Obamacare'

    Activists with the California Alliance for Retired Americans hold placards while gathered for a die-in to protest the government shutdown and possible effects on senior citizens in front of the Federal Building in Los Angeles on October 16, 2013. (FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images)

  • 'Cause Of Death: Sequester Cuts'

    Activists perform a "Die In" to protest government shutdown and proposed cuts to Medicare, Social Security benefits, as well as child care, food, disability, and senior advocate programs outside of the federal building in San Francisco, Wednesday, Oct. 16, 2013. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

  • 'Cause Of Death: Cuts To Food Programs'

    Katherine Bock of the Low Income Self Help Center in San Jose, Calif., holds up a black rose while listening to speakers outside of the federal building in San Francisco, Wednesday, Oct. 16, 2013. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

  • 'Facts Matter'

    Activists with the California Alliance for Retired Americans hold placards while gathered for a die-in to protest the government shutdown and possible effects on senior citizens in front of the Federal Building in Los Angeles on October 16, 2013. (FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images)

  • 'Congress End The Madness'

    Steven Ahrenholz, a furloughed Federal worker, protests outside the Department of Health and Human Services CDC offices, Tuesday, Oct. 15, 2013, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Al Behrman)

  • 'Obamacare: It's Working'

    Protesters demonstrate outside the offices of Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), Tuesday, Oct. 15, 2013, in West Chester, Ohio. The government shutdown is entering its third week. (AP Photo/Al Behrman)

  • 'No Work ... No Pay!'

    Tania Carreon, a furloughed Federal worker, protests outside the Department of Health and Human Services CDC offices, Tuesday, Oct. 15, 2013, in Cincinnati. The government shutdown is entering it's third week. (AP Photo/Al Behrman)

  • 'Freedom Protects..."

    A protester speaks to people gathered at a rally at the World War II Memorial in Washington Sunday, Oct. 13, 2013, has leaders in the U.S. Senate have taken the helm in the search for a deal to end the partial government shutdown and avert a federal default. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

  • Ted Cruz

    Tea Party Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, speaks at a rally at the World War II Memorial in Washington Sunday, Oct. 13, 2013. Leaders in the U.S. Senate have taken the helm in the search for a deal to end the partial government shutdown and avert a federal default. The rally was organized to protest the closure of the Memorial, subsequent to the shutdown, and lack of access to it by World War II veterans, who traveled there on Honor Flight visits. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

  • 'Impeach Obama'

    A man, who asked to be identified only as "Frank", carries and "Impeach Obama" sign while protesting with others outside the White House in Washington Sunday, Oct. 13, 2013, as the partial government shutdown enters its third week. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

  • Veterans

    U.S. Marine Corps veteran Joe Gschwind (cq) shows a flag in his cap at a rally to support veterans Sunday morning, October 13, 2013 at the Veterans Memorial Wall in Jacksonville, Florida. (AP Photo/The Florida Times-Union, Will Dickey)

  • 'No Furlough ... #StopTheShutdown"

    Federal worker protest outside the Department of Health and Human Services CDC offices, Tuesday, Oct. 15, 2013, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Al Behrman)

  • 'Shutdowns Kill! ... Congress: Do Your Job!'

    Activists with the California Alliance for Retired Americans hold placards while gathered for a die-in to protest the government shutdown and possible effects on senior citizens in front of the Federal Building in Los Angeles on October 16, 2013. (FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images)

  • 'We Do Our Jobs, Now You Do Yours'

    Furloughed federal workers protest outside the U.S. Capitol to demand an end to the lockout of federal workers caused by the government shutdown October 4, 2013 in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

  • 'Stop Arguing ... We Need Our Funds'

    Protesters hold placards urging the U.S. Congress to end the federal government shutdown on October 9, 2013 on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. (MICHAEL MATHES/AFP/Getty Images)

  • 'GOP Open The ENP'

    Fishing guide Captain Steve Friedman (C) along with his family, Kristine Friedman (L), Benjamin Friedman (R) and friend Sam Kaufman participate in a floating protest asking the U.S. government to stop the shutdown and open the Everglades National Park on October 9, 2013 in Islamorada, Florida. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

  • 'Stop The Furlough ... Pass A Clean CR ... Raise The Debt Ceiling'

    In this Oct. 8, 2013, photo, Andrea Bentley, with the American Federation of Government Employees, protests the government shutdown outside the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta. (AP Photo/David Goldman)

  • 'Jobs Not Furloughs!'

    Union federal employees protest the partial shutdown outside the McNamara Federal Building on Thursday Oct. 10, 2013, in Detroit. The government shutdown entered its second week with a possible default just days away. (AP Photo/Detroit News, Steve Perez)

  • 'We Are Not Indentured Servants'

    Union federal employees protest the partial shutdown outside the McNamara Federal Building on Thursday Oct. 10, 2013, in Detroit. The government shutdown entered its second week with a possible default just days away. (AP Photo/Detroit News, Steve Perez)

  • 'Republicans Are Neanderthal, Racist Obstructionists!!'

    Retired school teacher Audrey Davis participates in a protest and prayer vigil held to call for an end to the federal government shutdown on October 8, 2013 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

  • 'Tax Wall Street ... Rebuild Main Street'

    CHICAGO, IL - OCTOBER 08: Retired school teacher Mack Dailey (L) participates in a protest and prayer vigil held to call for an end to the federal government shutdown on October 8, 2013 in Chicago, Illinois. The protest was organized by the Rev. Jesse Jackson and the Rainbow PUSH Coalition as well as local labor, faith and community leaders. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

  • 'Don't Punish The Public'

    Protestors march in the Federal Building Plaza to call for an end to the federal government shutdown on October 8, 2013 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

  • 'Americans Want Jobs, Not Shutdowns!'

    Catherine Wriddley carries a sign during a protest and prayer vigil held to call for an end to the federal government shutdown on October 8, 2013 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

  • 'Don't Shut Down The Recovery'

    Dorothy James of the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) holds signs during a protest and prayer vigil held to call for an end to the federal government shutdown on October 8, 2013 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

  • 'Will Work For Food!'

    A federal worker creates a poster for a protest against the government shutdown outside the Environmental Protection Agency office in Guaynabo, Puerto Rico, Tuesday, Oct. 8, 2013. (AP Photo/Ricardo Arduengo)

  • 'We Want To Work'

    Federal workers protest the government shutdown outside the Environmental Protection Agency office in Guaynabo, Puerto Rico, Tuesday, Oct. 8, 2013. (AP Photo/Ricardo Arduengo)

  • 'Ted Cruz Uses Government Servants As Pawns'

    Protesters for federal workers idled by the government shutdown gather outside the San Antonio office of U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, Thursday, Oct. 3, 2013, in San Antonio. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

  • 'All Feds Are Essential'

    Protesters display placards during a demonstration in front of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., October 3, 2013, urging congress to end the federal government shutdown. (JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images)

  • 'Stop Acting Like Spoiled Brats'

    A protestor speaks to tourists while holding a sign against the government shutdown in front of the U.S. Capitol in Washington on October 5, 2013. (NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)

  • 'Give Us Back Our National Parks'

    A boat is towed up the Las Vegas Strip with a sign protesting the closure of the Lake Mead National Recreation Area on Sunday, Oct. 6, 2013. (AP Photo/Las Vegas Review-Journal, David Becker)

  • US-POLITICS-ECONOMY-BUDGET

    A protester displays a placard as he joins others in a demonstration in front of the US Capitol in Washington, DC, October 3, 2013, urging congress to end the federal government shutdown. US President Barack Obama on October 3, directly attacked Republican Speaker John Boehner, saying he could end a 'reckless' US government shutdown in just five minutes. AFP Photo/Jewel Samad (Photo credit should read JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images)

  • US-POLITICS-ECONOMY-BUDGET

    Protesters display placards during a demonstration in front of the US Capitol in Washington, DC, October 3, 2013, urging congress to end the federal government shutdown. US President Barack Obama on October 3, directly attacked Republican Speaker John Boehner, saying he could end a 'reckless' US government shutdown in just five minutes. AFP Photo/Jewel Samad (Photo credit should read JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images)

  • 'Set A Budget ... Do Your Job ... We Want To Work'

    Furloughed federal workers protest outside the U.S. Capitol to demand an end to the lockout of federal workers caused by the government shutdown October 4, 2013 in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

  • 'Congress Beware! When We're Screwed We Multiply'

    Furloughed federal workers protest outside the U.S. Capitol to demand an end to the lockout of federal workers caused by the government shutdown October 4, 2013 in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

  • 'Thousands Of People Are Laid Off Today But Congress Still Gets Paid'

    Furloughed federal workers protest outside the U.S. Capitol to demand an end to the lockout of federal workers caused by the government shutdown October 4, 2013 in Washington, DC. Today marks the fourth day of the government shutdown as Republicans and Democrats remain at an impasse over funding the federal government. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

  • Furloughed Federal Workers Protest Government Shutdown

    WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 04: Furloughed federal workers protest outside the U.S. Capitol to demand an end to the lockout of federal workers caused by the government shutdown October 4, 2013 in Washington, DC. Today marks the fourth day of the government shutdown as Republicans and Democrats remain at an impasse over funding the federal government. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

  • Bernie Sanders

    Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) speaks during a protest held by furloughed federal workers outside the U.S. Capitol to demand an end to the lockout of federal workers caused by the government shutdown October 4, 2013 in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

  • 'Get Over It, Boehner'

    Protesters display placards during a demonstration in front of the US Capitol in Washington on October 1, 2013 urging Congress to pass the budget bill. U.S. President Obama slammed Republicans for shutting down the government as part of an 'ideological crusade' designed to kill his signature health care law. (JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images)

  • 'Stop The Shutdown'

    A woman protesting the shutdown of the U.S. government stands on Capitol Hill October 2, 2013 in Washington, D.C. (BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)

  • 'Me For Dictator ... Fire Congress'

    A protester walks on Capitol Hill on October 2, 2013 in Washington, D.C.. The U.S. government is in a forced shutdown after lawmakers failed to pass a spending bill. (BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)

  • 'Just Think All Them Fools Under One Dome'

    Edie Williams of Columbia Md., holds her sign for passing traffic on Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, Wednesday, Oct. 2, 2013, to protest the partial shutdown of the government. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

  • 'Get Your Tea Party Hands Off My Government'

    Furloughed federal workers chant and shout as House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) and fellow House Republicans hold a news conference on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol October 2, 2013 in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

  • 'I Would Rather Be Working For You'

    Furloughed government union workers demonstrate on the side of Constitution Avenue October 2, 2013 in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

  • 'Stop The Blackmail! End the Shutdown!

    Peter Inman (R) joins furloughed government union workers as they demonstrate on the side of Constitution Avenue October 2, 2013 in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

  • 'No Gov't Shutdown Over Obamacare'

    Barbara Samuels, 86, joins dozens others to protest against the government shutdown outside the federal building in Los Angeles on Wednesday, Oct. 2, 2013. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

  • 'Enough Already!'

    Vicki Maturo, of Culver City, Calif., chants during a protest against the government shutdown outside the federal building in Los Angeles on Wednesday, Oct. 2, 2013. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

  • 'Do Your @!#&S JOB! So 800000 Americans Can Do Theirs!'

    Anti-government shutdown protesters gather on Capitol Hill on October 2, 2013 in Washington, D.C. (BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)

  • 'Congress ... Try Living Without Health Insurance'

    Susan Cooper, left, of Richardson, Texas, sits along side her husband, Jack, 93, and a Word War II veteran, as they demonstrate with nearly 40 others against the government shutdown, in front of the Social Security Administration building Wednesday, Oct. 2, 2013, in Dallas. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)

  • 'Hey Congress Do Your Job'

    Nelly Mathov, 79, holds a sign while protesting against the government shutdown outside the federal building in Los Angeles on Wednesday, Oct. 2, 2013. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

  • 'Mr President, Congress ... Tear Down This Wall'

    Joe Lee (L) and Lance Frye (R) of Woodbridge, Virginia, protest outside the World War II Memorial October 2, 2013 in Washington, D.C. Congressional members opened up the barricades of the memorial again and welcomed veteran groups to visit, most of them came on Honor Flights from around the country, on the second day of the government shutdown. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

  • 'Pass A Clean CRA Now!'

    David Schogel demonstrates with others in support of the 2010 federal health care law and calling on an end to the government shutdown outside of a Department Of Veterans Affairs regional administrative center Wednesday, Oct. 2, 2013, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)