US President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping engaged in a three-hour meeting on Monday, aimed at preventing strained US-China ties from spilling into a new Cold War.
In the two leaders’ first meeting since 2017, Biden brought up a number of difficult topics with Xi, according to the White House. These included raising US objections to China’s “coercive and increasingly aggressive actions toward Taiwan,” Beijing’s “non-market economic practices,” and practices in “Xinjiang, Tibet and Hong Kong, and human rights more broadly.”
“We’re going to compete vigorously. But I’m not looking for conflict, I’m looking to manage this competition responsibly,” Biden said after his talks with Xi on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Indonesia.
US-China relations have been roiled in recent years by growing tensions over issues ranging from Hong Kong and Taiwan to the South China Sea, trade practices and US restrictions on Chinese technology.
But US officials said there have been quiet efforts by both Beijing and Washington over the past two months to repair relations.
Beijing had cut off a series of formal dialogue channels with Washington, including on climate change and military-to-military talks, after US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi upset China by visiting Taiwan in August.
Biden and Xi agreed to allow senior officials to renew communication on climate, debt relief and other issues, the White House said after they spoke.
US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen told reporters in Bali earlier that the meeting aimed to stabilise the relationship and to create a “more certain atmosphere” for US businesses.
She said Biden had been clear with China about national security concerns regarding restrictions on sensitive US technologies and had raised concerns about the reliability of Chinese supply chains for commodities.
Amid simmering differences on human rights, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and support of domestic industry, the two leaders pledged more frequent communications. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken will travel to Beijing for follow-up talks.
The two leaders engaged in blunt talks over Taiwan, which is home to TSMC, the world’s largest chipmaker and a vital supplier of advanced chips to the US.
In a statement after their meeting, Xi called Taiwan the “first red line” that must not be crossed in US-China relations, Chinese state media said.
Biden said he sought to assure Xi that US policy on Taiwan, which has for decades been to support both Beijing’s ‘One China’ stance and Taiwan’s military, had not changed.
“I do not think there’s any imminent attempt on the part of China to invade Taiwan,” he told reporters.
Biden also said he told Xi the United States would do what it needs to do to defend itself and allies South Korea and Japan against North Korea. It could be “maybe more up in the face of China” though not directed against it, Biden added.
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