By SEUNG MIN KIM and ZEKE MILLER (Associated Press)
NUSA DUA, Indonesia (AP) — President Joe Biden has directly opposed China’s “coercive and increasingly aggressive actions” toward Taiwan during his presidency’s first in-person meeting with Xi Jinping, as two superpower leaders on Monday aimed to “manage” their differences in the competition for global influence.
The nearly three-hour meeting was the culmination of Biden’s week-long trip around the world in the Middle East and Asia, and came at a critical time for both countries amid economic and security tensions. growing. Speaking at a press conference afterwards, Biden said that when it comes to China, the United States will “compete vigorously, but I’m not looking for conflict.”
He added: “I absolutely believe that there is no need for a new cold war” between America and the rising Asian power.
Biden reiterated US support for his longstanding “One China” policy, which recognizes the government in Beijing – while allowing informal US relations and defense ties with Taipei, and “strategic ambiguity” over whether the United States would react militarily if the island was attacked. He also said that despite China’s recent saber-rattling, he does not believe “there is an imminent attempt by China to invade Taiwan.”
Xi, according to the minutes of the Chinese government meeting, “stressed that the Taiwan issue is at the very core of China’s core interests, the bedrock of the political foundation of China-US relations, and the first red line not to be cross”. in Sino-US relations.
Biden said he and Xi also discussed Russia’s aggression against Ukraine and “reaffirmed our shared belief” that the use or even the threat of nuclear weapons is “completely unacceptable.” It was a reference to thinly veiled threats by Moscow to use atomic weapons as its nearly nine-month invasion of Ukraine failed.
Chinese officials have largely refrained from publicly criticizing Russia’s war, although Beijing has avoided direct support for the Russians, such as supplying arms.
While there was no breakthrough, the Biden-Xi meeting brought long-sought, albeit modest, gains to each side. In addition to shared condemnation of Russian nuclear threats, Biden appeared to get Xi to resume lower-level cooperation with China on a range of shared global challenges. Meanwhile, Xi, who aimed to establish China as a geopolitical peer of the United States, secured symbolic territory for the meeting as well as a firm commitment to Biden’s one-China policy.
The White House said Biden and Xi agreed to “empower key senior officials” to work on potential areas of cooperation, including addressing climate change and maintaining global financial, health and food stability. Beijing had severed those contacts with the United States to protest House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s trip to Taiwan in August.
China and the United States are the world’s worst climate polluters, and their individual climate contacts are seen as key to avoiding some of the most dire climate change scenarios. Biden’s first stop on his long trip abroad was in Egypt for a major climate conference.
The two leaders agreed that US Secretary of State Antony Blinken would travel to Beijing to continue talks.
Xi and Biden greeted each other warmly with a handshake at a luxury hotel in Indonesia, where they are attending the G20 summit of major economies.
“As leaders of our two nations, we share a responsibility, in my view, to show that China and the United States can manage our differences, prevent competition from becoming conflict, and find ways to work together on issues. pressing global issues. that require our mutual cooperation,” Biden said to open the meeting.
Xi called on Biden to “chart the right path” and “elevate relations” between China and the United States. He said he wanted a “frank and in-depth exchange of views”.
Both men entered the highly anticipated reunion with a strengthened political position at home. The Democrats triumphantly retained control of the US Senate, with a chance to raise their rank by one point in a runoff election in Georgia next month, while Xi was awarded a third five-term term. years in October by the National Congress of the Communist Party, a break with tradition.
But relations between the two powers have become strained under successive US administrations, with economic, trade, human rights and security differences at the forefront.
As president, Biden has repeatedly blamed China for human rights abuses against the Uyghur people and other ethnic minorities, crackdowns on democracy activists in Hong Kong, coercive business practices, military provocations against autonomous Taiwan and disputes over Russia and Ukraine.
The White House said Biden specifically mentioned U.S. concerns about China’s actions in Xinjiang, Tibet and Hong Kong, and the plight of Americans he sees as “wrongfully detained” or subjected to exit bans in China.
Taiwan has become one of the most contentious issues. On several occasions during his presidency, Biden has said the United States would defend the island – which China is eyeing for possible unification – in the event of a Beijing-led invasion. But administration officials have repeatedly stressed that US policy toward China has not changed.
Pelosi’s trip prompted China, officially the People’s Republic of China, to retaliate with military exercises and the firing of ballistic missiles into nearby waters.
The White House said Biden “has raised American objections to the PRC’s coercive and increasingly aggressive actions toward Taiwan, which undermine peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait and the wider region, and undermine global prosperity”.
At the meeting, Biden said China’s economic practices are “harming American workers and families, and workers and families around the world,” the White House said.
The meeting came just weeks after the Biden administration blocked exports of advanced computer chips to China – a national security measure that bolsters US competition against Beijing.
Xi’s government has said it condemns such moves, saying: “Triggering a trade war or a tech war, building walls and barriers, and pushing for decoupling and disruption of supply chains goes to the run counter to the principles of the market economy and undermine the rules of international trade”.
Although the two men held five phone or video calls during Biden’s presidency, White House officials said those meetings were no substitute for an in-person meeting. They said sitting down with Xi was all the more important after the Chinese leader tightened his grip on power with a third term and because lower-level Chinese officials were unable or unwilling to talk to the government. name of their leader.
White House officials and their Chinese counterparts spent weeks negotiating details of the meeting, which was held at Xi’s hotel with translators providing simultaneous interpretation via headsets. Each leader was flanked by nine aides wearing an N-95 mask and, in Xi’s case, at least one official newly elevated in the recent Congress to his top leadership.
US officials were eager to see how Xi approached the meeting after cementing his position as the undisputed head of state – whether that made him more or less likely to seek areas of cooperation.
Biden said Xi was as he always was.
“I didn’t find it more confrontational or more conciliatory,” Biden said. “I found him as he always was, direct and straightforward.”
Associated Press writers Josh Boak in Baltimore and Darlene Superville in Washington contributed to this report.