Biden dials Xi amid growing tensions in US-China relations
Washington/Beijing, Sep. 10 (PTI): US President Joe Biden spoke with his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping and discussed topics where the interests of the two countries “converge” and areas where their interests, values, and perspectives “diverge”, the White House said, amid deepening “competition” between the world’s two largest economies.
The US and China have been locked in a standoff fuelled by major disagreements on issues like trade, technology, Beijing’s aggressive moves in the South China Sea and human rights. Earlier this year, high-level talks between the Biden administration and Beijing were fraught with tension – with officials on both sides exchanging sharp rebukes in public.
“The two leaders had a broad, strategic discussion in which they discussed areas where our interests converge, and areas where our interests, values, and perspectives diverge,” the White House said in a statement on Thursday after Biden initiated the nearly 90-minute conversation.
“They agreed to engage on both sets of issues openly and straightforwardly. This discussion, as President Biden made clear, was part of the United States’ ongoing effort to responsibly manage the competition between the United States and the People’s Republic of China.”
Biden addressed cyber issues during the conversation, and generally sought to have a “broad and strategic discussion” about how to manage the competitive US-China relationship to avoid veering into conflict, CNN quoted a senior administration official who spoke with reporters before and after the call.
The official described the tone of the call, which Biden took from the Treaty Room of the White House residence, as “respectful” and “familiar and candid.”
President Biden underscored the United States’ enduring interest in peace, stability, and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific and the world and the two leaders discussed the responsibility of both nations to ensure competition does not veer into conflict, the statement issued by the White House said.
In Beijing, Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesman Zhao Lijian, responding to a question on the Xi-Biden conversation, said that China and the United States are respectively the biggest developing country and the biggest developed country.
“Whether they can handle their relationship well bears on the future of the world. It is a question of the century to which the two countries must provide a good answer. When China and the United States cooperate, the two countries and the world will benefit; when China and the United States are in confrontation, the two countries and the world will suffer,” Zhao said.
“Getting the relationship right is not an option, but something we must do and must do well,” he said.
With the international community facing many common challenges, China and the United States need to show broad vision and shoulder great responsibilities, he said.
“The two countries should look ahead and press forward, demonstrate strategic courage and political resolve, and bring China-US relations back to the right track of stable development as soon as possible for the good of the people in both countries and around the world,” the spokesman said.
He also said that both presidents agreed that in-depth communication between them on China-US relations and major international issues is very important for steering the bilateral ties in the right direction.
They agreed to maintain frequent contact by multiple means and instruct officials at the working level to intensify the work, conduct extensive dialogue and create conditions for the further development of bilateral ties, Zhao added.
The Biden administration has said the US. welcomes competition with China, but wants to cooperate in areas of common interest, like climate change. But Chinese officials say it is unrealistic for the US to expect cooperation while also taking steps that Beijing sees as harming China’s core interests.
US media reports quoted a senior Biden administration official saying said the idea for Thursday’s call was born of frustration with a perceived unwillingness on the part of lower-level Chinese officials to “engage in serious or substantive conversations.” US-China high-level meetings since Xi and Biden’s first call in February have yielded little progress on a slew of issues, from human rights to transparency over the origins of COVID-19 in the Chinese city of Wuh