Biden, Xi Agree US and China Should ‘Manage’ Conflict, Compete ‘Responsibly’
BALI, Indonesia — President Biden’s much anticipated bilateral meeting with President Xi Jinping of the People’s Republic of China took place Monday morning in Bali, Indonesia.
The first face-to-face meeting of the leaders as heads of state of their respective countries lasted three hours and ended shortly before 8:30 a.m. ET in the U.S.
Reporters traveling with Biden spent about 12 minutes with the two leaders before they began their private talks. They described the tone of Biden and XI’s initial greeting as “relaxed,” and said there was “a lot of smiling” and “no hesitation as the two men approached each other for their initial handshake.”
“The last time we went was in 2017, during the World Economic Forum in Davos,” noted Biden as photographers pressed in for a closer view. “That was already more than five years ago.”
Noting that the intervening years had been eventful, Xi said, “We have gained experiences and we have also learned lessons. History is the best textbook. So we should take history as a mirror and let it guide the future.”
Both Biden and Xi signaled an openness to repairing the bilateral relationship between the U.S. and China, a relationship that in recent years has been strained by growing tensions over the future of Taiwan, commercial competition, particularly in the realm of technology, and vastly different views of the world order.
“I look forward to working with you, Mr. President, to bring China-U.S. relations back to the track of health and stable development for the benefit of our two countries and the world as a whole,” Xi told Biden.
“As leaders of two major countries we need to chart the right course for the China-US relationship,” he continued. “We need to find the right direction for the bilateral relation going forward and elevate the relationship
“A statesman should think not only about the road he wants to lead his country down, he must also think about how to get along with other countries and the world,” Xi said.
“The world expects China and the U.S. to properly handle our relationships,” Xi added. “We need to work with all countries to bring peace, confidence in stability and strong impetus to common development.”
For his part, Biden said he is personally committed to keeping lines of communication open with Xi, and also to seeing that both governments keep an equally open dialogue going.
“We share responsibility, in my view, to show that China and the United States can manage our differences, prevent competition from becoming conflict, and to find ways to work together on urgent global issues that require our mutual cooperation,” he said.
“I believe this is critical for the sake of our two countries and the international community,” Biden added.
“The world expects, I believe, China and the United States to play key roles in addressing global challenges from climate changes to food insecurity, and for us to be able to work together,” the president said later. “The United States stands ready to do just that, work with you, if that’s what you desire.”
According to the U.S. summary of the talks, Biden explained “in detail” that the United States remains committed to the “one China” policy that acknowledges Beijing’s claims to the island, without accepting or endorsing that claim.
But Biden also raised objections to China’s “coercive and increasingly aggressive actions toward Taiwan.”
Biden also raised China’s human rights record with Xi and said resolving the cases of American citizens detained in China is a priority for the administration.
The White House said that Antony Blinken, the secretary of state, would follow up on their discussions in a future visit to China.
The only blemish on the talks came as pool reporters were being ushered out of the room so the two leaders could talk in private.
As the reporters were leaving, a TV producer called out to Biden, asking whether he would indeed raise human rights during the talks.
At that point, according to pool reporter Sebastian Smith of AFP, the French international news agency, a man presumably from the Chinese side (wearing a white mask with a Chinese flag on it) yanked the producer backwards by the backpack.
She lost balance without falling and was pushed toward the door. “Two White House staff members intervened saying the producer should be left alone,” Smith wrote.
Dan can be reached at email@example.com and at https://twitter.com/DanMcCue
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