The two leaders’ first in-person talk was dominated by mutual rivalry and the world’s expectations
During their in-person meeting in Indonesia on Monday, US President Joe Biden and Chinese leader Xi Jinping said their two countries should cooperate better to meet the world’s expectations and agreed that nuclear war should never be fought.
In brief remarks before the bilateral discussion, Biden said the two countries needed to show the world they can manage their differences and “find ways to work together on urgent global issues,” including climate change and “food insecurity.”
“History is the best textbook. We should take it as a mirror and let it guide the future,” Xi said, adding that current relations between the US and China are “not in the fundamental interests of our two countries and peoples,” and that the international community expects both leaders to improve that.
“A statesman should think about and know where to lead his country. He should also think about and know how to get along with other countries and the wider world,” Xi said.
Monday afternoon’s meeting, which took place on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Bali, was the first for both leaders since Biden became the US president in 2021. Biden reminded Xi they had met many times while he was vice-president, while the Chinese leader noted their last in-person encounter was at the World Economic Forum in Davos, in 2017.
During their ensuing conversation, Biden told Xi the US intends to “continue to compete vigorously” with China, but does not intend this to “veer into conflict,” according to the White House’s readout. The two countries “must work together” to address transnational issues “because that is what the international community expects,” Biden added.
The US president “raised concerns” about human rights in China, and told Xi the US policy on Taiwan has not changed. However, he objected to Beijing’s “coercive and increasingly aggressive actions,” and brought up China’s “non-market economic practices.” Biden also addressed the issue of “wrongfully detained” Americans, according to the readout. He condemned North Korea and repeated his “ironclad commitment” to defend allies in the “Indo-Pacific.”
It was Biden who brought up the conflict in Ukraine, condemning Russia and alleging it had made “irresponsible threats” to use atomic weapons – something Moscow has repeatedly denied, accusing Western media of misinterpretation.
The US and Chinese leaders “reiterated their agreement that a nuclear war should never be fought and can never be won, and underscored their opposition to the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons in Ukraine,” the White House said.
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