Biden, Xi hold candid, in-depth talks to improve ties between US and China

President Joe Biden meets virtually with Chinese President Xi Jinping from the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington on November 15, 2021. (AP/ PTI Photo)

President Joe Biden meets virtually with Chinese President Xi Jinping from the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington on November 15, 2021. (AP/ PTI Photo)

Beijing/Washington, November 16 (PTI): Chinese President Xi Jinping and his US counterpart Joe Biden in a much-awaited virtual summit on Tuesday held candid talks on establishing a working relationship between the top two global powers to manage their increasingly conflictual relations over issues like human rights, trade, Taiwan and the Indo-Pacific.

It is the first time that the two presidents held a face-to-face meeting, albeit virtually, since Biden entered the White House in January, even though they spoke over phone twice earlier.

The summit was held in two sittings and it went on for over three hours.

Xi and Biden held comprehensive and in-depth communications and exchanges over strategic, overall and fundamental issues concerning bilateral ties as well as important issues of common concern, state-run China Daily said in a brief report after the meeting.

Xi expressed hope that Biden will demonstrate "political leadership" to bring the US policy towards China back to a "rational and practical" track, official news agency Xinhua reported.

Earlier speaking to reporters in Washington, Biden said it was both his and Xi's responsibility to ensure that the ties between the US and China do not veer into open conflict.

Xi said he was pleased to see his old friend Biden jarring with remarks hours earlier from White House press secretary Jen Psaki, who told reporters that Biden did not view his Chinese counterpart in such terms, Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post reported.

Biden said he was looking forward to ensuring simple, straightforward competition between the two countries.

We need to establish some common-sense guardrails, he said, before emphasising collaboration, especially on vital global issues like climate change . We have a responsibility to the world as well as to our people, Biden said.

The US president said his agenda for the meeting included human rights, economics and ensuring a free and fair Indo-Pacific.

The two leaders had always communicated with one another very honestly and candidly , Biden said, adding: We never walk away wondering what the other man is thinking.

Xi for his part said China and the US should respect each other, coexist in peace and pursue a win-win cooperation.

The US and several other world powers have been talking about the need to ensure a free, open and thriving Indo-Pacific in the backdrop of China's rising military manoeuvring in the resource-rich region.

China claims nearly all of the disputed South China Sea, though Taiwan, the Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia and Vietnam all claim parts of it. Beijing has built artificial islands and military installations in the South China Sea. China also has territorial disputes with Japan in the East China Sea

Speaking at the summit, Xi called for developing a sound and steady China-US relationship and expressed his readiness to work with Biden to build consensus and take active steps to move the bilateral relations forward in a positive direction.

The highly-anticipated summit, which began early Tuesday, is the third engagement between Xi, 68, and Biden, 78, since February. The two leaders had a lengthy phone call in September.

The meeting came amid high tension in China-US bilateral relationship over Beijing's actions on issues like trade, human rights, the South China Sea and Taiwan.

In his opening remarks circulated by the official media here, Xi said the two countries faced multiple challenges and they must increase communication and cooperation.

China and the US should respect each other, coexist in peace and pursue win-win cooperation, Xi said, expressing his readiness to work with Biden to build consensus and take active steps to move China-US relations forward in a positive direction.

A host of issues ranging from Taiwan, Hong Kong, Xinjiang and Tibet, besides the AUKUS -- a trilateral security pact between the US, the UK and Australia -- and the Quad alliance comprising the US, India, Japan and Australia, which Beijing says is aimed to contain its rise, were expected to figure in the discussions.

China is concerned that Biden is still continuing with the trade war initiated by his predecessor Donald Trump.

Since 2017, the US and China have imposed tariffs on billions of dollars of each other's goods after Washington accused Beijing of blocking access to its markets and stealing American intellectual property.

Despite tensions on a host of issues, including Taiwan, the virtual summit came days after both the countries pledged to increase cooperation to rein in greenhouse gas emissions at the recently concluded UN Climate Change Conference in Glasgow.

Xi pointed out that both China and the US are at critical stages of development, and the "global village" of humanity faces multiple challenges.

He said as the world's two largest economies and permanent members of the UN Security Council, China and the US need to increase communication and cooperation, each run their domestic affairs well and, at the same time, shoulder their share of international responsibilities, and work together to advance the noble cause of world peace and development.

This is the shared desire of the people of the two countries and around the world, and the joint mission of Chinese and American leaders, Xi said.

He stressed that a sound and steady China-US relationship is required for advancing the two countries' respective development and for safeguarding a peaceful and stable international environment, including finding effective responses to global challenges such as climate change and the COVID-19 pandemic.

Doing so will advance the interests of the two peoples and meet the expectations of the international community, he said.

Meanwhile, for Xi, the timing of the summit was significant as it was held days after cementing his power base within the ruling Communist Party.

It is now almost certain that Xi will be handed down an unprecedented third five-year term at the Communist Party of China (CPC) once-in-a-five-year-Congress next year as the key Plenum of the party last week reinforced his power by hailing him as its "helmsman", an honorific title reserved for party founder Mao Zedong.

While the official media here earlier said Xi will ask Biden not to press ahead with the "Taiwan card" as Beijing kept up the pressure on the estranged self-governing island to integrate with the mainland which has now become the main political plank of the Chinese President.

The Chinese military in the last few weeks flew over 200 planes into Taiwan Air Defence Identification Zone (ADIZ), which were virtually unchallenged, raising concerns that it is only a matter of time China may launch an offensive to capture the island which Beijing claims as its own.

On Saturday last, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi held preparatory telephone talks with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken during which he said the two countries should meet each other halfway to ensure a successful virtual summit between their two leaders and bring bilateral ties back to the right track.

Disclaimer: This story is auto-generated from news agency feeds and has not been edited by The Morung Express.

Source: PTI