Biden’s meeting with Xi “substantive” but no breakthroughs

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President Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping held wide-ranging and at times candid discussions in a virtual meeting that lasted about three and a half hours on Monday evening.

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why it matters: meeting did not take place Produce any “deliverables” But it strengthened the much-needed sense of stability between the two countries.

  • “The talks were respectful and direct and open,” a senior administration official told reporters after the meeting.
  • Biden and Xi discuss “The importance of managing competition responsibly,” a theme the Biden administration emphasized in the days leading up to the call.

Running news: The meeting was announced on the heels of a US-China announcement at last week’s COP26 climate summit, in which the two countries pledged to take more aggressive measures to reduce carbon emissions.

  • The surprise joint statement was seen as a welcome step toward de-escalating tensions between the two superpowers, which have been at odds in recent months over sanctions, technical sanctions and military activity near Taiwan.
  • The Biden-Xi meeting was expected to build on that positive development, and thus it turned out.
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What are they saying: “I think it is our responsibility as leaders of China and the United States to ensure that competition between our countries does not turn into conflict, whether intended or unintended,” Biden said in his inaugural address. ,[W]E need to set up some common sense railings.”

  • In his opening remarks, Xi said: “A strong Sino-US relationship is needed to advance the respective development of our two countries and to safeguard a peaceful and stable international environment in which effective responses to global challenges such as climate change are achieved. … and the COVID pandemic.”

description: The senior administration official said Biden and Xi had “extended discussions” about Taiwan, with Biden reaffirming US commitment to his one-China policy. The two leaders also talked about climate change, global health, energy, trade, Iran and Afghanistan.

  • “We were not expecting a breakthrough, there was no one to report,” the official said. Rather, the meeting was about maintaining a “steady position”.
  • Biden brought up human rights on several points, a point of disagreement for both leaders. “It’s no secret that they have a real difference of views on the world,” the official said.
  • Chinese state media Featuring Xi’s Commentary Calling for stability in ties, he said the “huge ships” of the US and China should not collide.
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Background: Senior officials kept expectations low ahead of the meeting, saying in Sunday’s call that the administration did not expect any “deliverables” and that the call should be called a “virtual meeting” and not a summit.

  • Still, officials in both the US and China expressed optimism ahead of the call that it could help defuse tensions.
  • “The two leaders will discuss ways to responsibly manage competition between the United States and the PRC, as well as ways to work together where our interests align,” the White House press secretary said. jen saki said in a statement on Friday.
  • Chinese Foreign Minister wang yi said Over the weekend he expressed hope that the meeting will “put the bilateral relationship back on the track of sound and stable development.”

big picture: Tensions between the US and China have deepened in the past year in the midst of a confession That the two countries are likely to enter an era of continued rivalry.

  • Former President Trump’s tough stance on China, especially in the last year of his presidency, clashed with hardliners of the Communist Party of China, making cooperation between the two countries almost impossible on issues of mutual interest.
  • Biden has maintained many of the policies of his predecessor, but he has also committed To employ diplomacy where possible – particularly on climate cooperation.

Between the lines: Craig Singleton, an adjunct fellow in the Foundation for Defense of Democracy’s China Program, said, like Biden, Xi is facing “an unprecedented number of domestic challenges – including a COVID-19 resurgence, massive energy shortages, and A budding housing bubble is about to burst.”

  • “The last thing either Biden or Xi want right now is a major foreign policy crisis,” Singleton said.

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