United States President Joe Biden meets China’s President Xi Jinping during a virtual summit from the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington, DC, November 15, 2021.
Almond Ngan | AFP | Getty Images
BEIJING – US President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping practically met on Tuesday in the closest communication between the leaders of the two countries since Biden took office in January.
While both sides identified points of tension, post-meeting public statements highlighted ways for the world’s two largest economies to avoid conflict.
Biden “pointed to the need for guard rails with common sense to ensure that competition does not conflict and that lines of communication remain open,” the White House said in a reading after the meeting.
Regarding Taiwan, there was “nothing new in the form of guard rails or other arrangements,” a senior Biden government official told reporters on a phone call.
Xi said during the meeting that in order for China and the US to get along “in a new era,” three principles of mutual respect, peaceful coexistence and win-win cooperation should be followed, Chinese state media said, according to a CNBC- Translation. Beijing usually uses a language like “mutual respect” when it calls for more favorable terms from the US
“The meeting itself was really about the two leaders discussing ways to responsibly manage competition between the United States and China,” said the Biden official.
“The meeting [was] Far-reaching, deep, open, constructive, substantive and productive, “said Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying, in English on Twitter.” It helps to improve mutual understanding. “
Tensions between the two nations escalated under former US President Donald Trump, beginning with trade and tariffs on goods worth billions of dollars.
The leaders ended the meeting shortly before 12:30 p.m. Beijing time (11:30 p.m. ET Monday), almost four hours after it started, Chinese state media said.
The virtual meeting started on a positive note and warm remarks. Xi said he was “very happy” to see his “old friend,” while Biden said the two “have never been so formal with each other,” according to a White House reading in the opening remarks at the meeting.
Biden said the responsibility of leaders is “to be clear and honest where we disagree and to work together where our interests intersect, especially on major global issues like climate change.”
“Our responsibility as leaders of China and the United States is to ensure that competition between our countries does not come into conflict, be it intentional or unintentional,” said the US president. “Simply simple, straightforward competition.”
Both guides said it was better to meet in person and asked for more communication.
The Chinese leader also expressed “willingness to work with President Biden to reach consensus and take active steps to move China-US relations in a positive direction,” according to the Chinese Foreign Ministry. Xi stressed the need for a “solid and stable” relationship between the two countries, the press release said.
China’s Vice Premier Liu He, Foreign Minister Wang Yi, and Vice Foreign Minister Xie Feng attended the virtual meeting along with Ding Xuexiang, Director of the CCP Central Committee’s General Office, and Yang Jiechi, Director of the Committee’s Foreign Ministry.
On the US side, those attending were Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, Secretary of State Antony Blinken, and National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan. Three representatives from the National Security Council also attended: Kurt Campbell, Assistant to the President and Coordinator for the Indo-Pacific; Laura Rosenberger, Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for China; and Jon Czin, director for China.
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Despite the Trump administration’s focus on trade, a senior Biden administration official told reporters prior to the call that tariffs were unlikely to be on the agenda. The meeting is about US efforts to manage competition with China, not specific goals or an outcome, the official said.
The high-level meeting is important to ensure that competition does not lead to conflict, the official said.
Controversy over Taiwan is a point of tension between China and the US Beijing regards the island, which operates its own democratic government, as part of the territory of the Beijing-based government.