US President Joe Biden held a virtual meeting with China’s Xi Jinping and started on a positive note, saying their goal is to ensure that competition “doesn’t turn into conflict.”
Mr Biden criticized Beijing for human rights violations against Uyghurs in northwest China, as well as suppressing democratic protests in Hong Kong and military intimidation of the self-governing island of Taiwan, among other things.
In response, Mr. XiMPs have lashed out at the Biden administration for interfering in what they believe are domestic Chinese issues.
“It appears that it is our responsibility as the leaders of China and the United States to ensure that competition between our countries does not turn into conflict, intentional or unintentional, rather than simple and direct competition,” Biden said opening the meeting. .
He added: “It seems to me that we need to establish some common sense barriers. To be clear and honest where we disagree and work together where interests intersect, especially on vital global issues such as climate change.”
Biden said the United States “will always uphold our interests and values and those of our allies and partners,” before inviting Xi to a discussion in which his administration has concerns, “from human rights to the economy, to ensure a Free and open Indo-Pacific ”.
Xi, who warmly greeted the US leader referring to him as his “old friend”, said the two sides need to improve communication.
He said a healthy and stable bilateral relationship is needed to address global challenges such as climate change and COVID-19, and added that he would like to work with Biden to drive the positive development of US-China relations.
“I am ready to work with you, Mr. President, to build consensus, take active steps and move China-US relations in a positive direction,” he said.
“A solid relationship between China and the United States is needed to advance the respective development of our two countries and to safeguard a peaceful and stable international environment, including seeking effective responses to global challenges, such as climate change … and COVID pandemic “.
Xi stressed that both China and the United States are in critical stages of development and that humanity’s “global village” faces multiple challenges.
The two leaders had already traveled together when they were both vice presidents and knew each other well – and Mr. Biden would have preferred to meet Mr. Xi in person.
However, the Chinese leader hasn’t left his country since before the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The White House has suggested the idea of a virtual meeting as the best thing to do to allow the couple to have an honest conversation about a wide range of tensions in the relationship – from climate change, to human rights and trade.
Ahead of the meeting, the White House said Biden will abide by the US “One China” policy, which recognizes Beijing but allows for informal relations and defense ties with Taipei.
It comes after Chinese military forces held exercises near Taiwan last week in response to a visit by a US Congressional delegation to the island.
Xi could seek to stabilize short-term US-China relations with Beijing hosting the Winter Olympics in February, as well as the Chinese leader is expected to serve a third five-year term as president next year.
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki previously said the “condensation of power” in China made leader-to-leader conversations essential.
Meanwhile, Mr. Biden has some internal problems after seeing his poll numbers decline due to concerns about the persistent coronavirus pandemic, inflation and supply chain problems, and is trying to find a balance on the the most consequential foreign policy issue he is addressing.
The White House set low expectations for the meeting with Xi and said no major announcements or even a joint statement are expected.