Caixin
Nov 16, 2021 07:42 PM
WORLD

Update: Xi Tells Biden That China and U.S. Should Respect Each Other and Cooperate

President Xi Jinping holds a virtual summit via video link with U.S. President Joe Biden on Tuesday morning. Photo: Screenshot from CCTV
President Xi Jinping holds a virtual summit via video link with U.S. President Joe Biden on Tuesday morning. Photo: Screenshot from CCTV

China and the U.S. should “respect each other, coexist peacefully, and cooperate for a win-win situation,” President Xi Jinping told his U.S. counterpart Joe Biden during a virtual summit Tuesday, according to state media reports.

Xi also said that the world’s two largest economies should not just focus on their own domestic affairs, but should also shoulder international responsibilities, state media reported.

The summit marked the two presidents’ first meeting via video link since Biden took office, following their two phone conversations in February and in September.

Calling Biden an “old friend” at the start of the meeting, Xi said that a sound and steady China-U.S. relationship is required to advance the two countries’ respective development and to safeguard a peaceful and stable international environment, including finding effective responses to global challenges such as climate change and Covid-19, according to state media.

The Chinese leader also “expressed his readiness” to work with Biden “to build consensus and take active steps to move China-U.S. relations forward in a positive direction,” according to state media.

Meanwhile, Biden said at the start of the meeting that the competition between the two countries should not slip into conflict. “It seems to be our responsibility as the leaders of China and the U.S. to ensure that the competition between our countries does not veer into conflict, whether intended or unintended, rather than simple, straightforward competition,” Biden was quoted as saying by U.S. media.

Ian Bremmer, president of Eurasia Group, a Washington-based geopolitical consulting firm, said on social media that “Biden and Xi both want a markedly less dysfunctional U.S.-China relationship — and less chance of sudden crisis — than presently exists.”

“That’s less than a breakthrough. But it’s the logic behind the virtual summit. And a welcome development,” he said.

The two leaders discussed issues related to Taiwan, economic and trade relations, and climate change during the meeting, which lasted roughly three hours, according to state media.

At the meeting, which the state-run Xinhua News Agency described as a “candid, in-depth and extensive strategic” exchange, both leaders agreed that the summit can help give the international community a positive outlook on China-U.S. relations, according to the news agency’s report.

On Taiwan issues, Xi noted that China will be compelled to take resolute measures if separatist forces “provoke us, force our hands or even cross a red line,” Xinhua reported.

Xi blamed the new wave of tensions across the Taiwan Strait on Taiwan authorities’ repeated attempts to attract U.S. support for their independence agenda, as some Americans want to use Taiwan to contain China, Xinhua reported.

“Such moves are extremely dangerous, just like playing with fire,” Xi was quoted in the Xinhua report.

For his part, Biden said the U.S. government remains committed to the “One China” policy, noting that the country does not support “Taiwan independence” and hopes that peace and stability would be maintained in the Taiwan Strait, according to Xinhua.

The U.S. president reiterated that the U.S. does not seek to change China’s system, and the revitalization of its alliances is not anti-China, Xinhua reported. Noting that China-U.S. relations are the most important in the world, Biden said the two countries should improve mutual understanding and ensure fair and healthy competition.

Regarding the trade relations, Xi described the nature of China’s economic and trade relationship with the U.S. as mutually beneficial, and said that economic and trade issues between the two countries should not be politicized, according to Xinhua.

He called on the U.S. to stop abusing or overstretching the concept of national security to suppress Chinese businesses, Xinhua reported. Xi added that the U.S. should be mindful of the spillover effects of its domestic macroeconomic policies, and adopt responsible measures.

In a recent interview, U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen acknowledged that the Biden administration is considering lowering some its tariffs on China to help ease domestic inflation, according to U.S. media reports.

Senior officials from China and the U.S. have been engaged in trade talks since earlier this year as both sides are making efforts to stabilize economic relations that suffered from tit-for-tat tariffs and sanctions. Last month, Vice Premier Liu He and U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai held a video call noting a consensus on resolving bilateral economic and trade disputes through consultation.

On climate issues, as the two presidents spoke for the first time following the COP26 climate summit that concluded last week, Xi said that climate change can become a new highlight of China-U.S. cooperation as both countries are transitioning to green and low-carbon economy, Xinhua said.

The Chinese leader reiterated the country’s climate pledges, saying China will make the world’s biggest cut in carbon emission intensity in the shortest time frame in history, a task that will require extraordinary efforts, Xinhua reported.

During the meeting, Xi also noted “four priority areas” for the two countries to work on, according to Xinhua.

Those areas are: working together on leading the global response to outstanding challenges, acting in the spirit of equality and mutual benefit, managing differences and sensitive issues in a constructive way to prevent the relations from getting derailed or out of control, and strengthening coordination and cooperation on major international and regional hotspot issues.

The Chinese leader described the two countries as “two giant ships sailing in the sea,” which should move together in the same direction so they don’t collide, according to Xinhua.

Prior to the top leaders’ meeting, Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi noted the same idea when he spoke with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken Saturday over the phone, noting that “the helmsmanship of the two heads of state plays a key role in steering bilateral relations,” according to the Chinese foreign ministry.

China’s top diplomat reiterated that the two countries should “work in the same direction” and “bring bilateral relations back onto the track of sound and steady development.”

Contact reporters Cai Xuejiao (xuejiaocai@caixin.com) and Lu Zhenhua (zhenhualu@caixin.com) and editor Michael Bellart (michaelbellart@caixin.com)

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