The Presidents of China and the United States, Xi Jinping and Joe Biden held their first formal meeting which lasted about three and a half hours. In a climate of growing geopolitical tension, they spoke remotely in a videoconference in which the Chinese president asked that both countries can develop “healthy and stable” relations.
Xi proposed to Biden that they work together to “build consensus” as “China and the United States are at a critical stage in their development” and both have an obligation to maintain a “peaceful and stable” international order.
According to the Xinhua agency, Xi said that mutual respect, cooperation and peaceful coexistence should be the three basic principles that guide relations between the two powers.
Nevertheless, a White House official reported that the meeting was not fruitful. “We were not expecting a breakthrough. There was none. Nothing to report,” he said.
Taiwan and the “one China” policy
One of the main axes of the meeting was Taiwan, an island over which China claims sovereignty. Xi warned that Beijing will be forced to “take decisive action if Taiwanese secessionist forces cross red lines,” referring to a possible declaration of independence from Taipei.
“We have the patience and the will to achieve a peaceful reunification. But if the Taiwanese secessionists continue to provoke or cross red lines, we will have to take decisive measures, “stressed the Chinese leader.
Biden, for its part, stated that the United States opposes “unilateral changes in the status quo” and reiterated its commitment to the “one China” policy that recognizes only Beijing as a state.
The White House official assured that the president vindicated human rights at various times during the meeting and “was quite clear and quite sincere with the variety of concerns” in this regard.
Relations between the two countries were paralyzed during the presidency of Donald Trump. This is the first time since he took office in January that Biden has formally sat down with Xi, although the two had had a phone conversation in September.
“In the next 50 years, the most important issue for international relations is to find a suitable path for ties between China and the United States,” the Chinese president said.
According to Xi, China wants its people to have a better life and will not accept that anyone resists this “historical trend.”
“Nor is there anyone who can stop this trend,” said the president, who also warned that “China will not allow human rights to be used to advance its internal affairs”.
The Chinese leader remarked that China and the United States are “two great ships that sail in the sea, and we need to grip the wheel tightly to keep going despite the winds and avoid bumping into each other“.
Xi remarked that the climate change and the fight against the pandemic are priority “global challenges” in which to cooperate.
They also talked about Iran, a subject of friction between the two countries over the purchase of Iranian crude by Beijing, although according to the White House the leaders focused on exchanging opinions regarding the nuclear negotiation.
They also spoke about the Indo-Pacific region, which the two countries have their sights on, and Biden conveyed to Xi his intention to keep it “open and free.”
From Washington they also pointed out that China’s trade practices are “unfair” and that they want competition between the two countries “not to end in conflict.”
For its part, Beijing hopes that Washington will adopt “rational and pragmatic policies” and not use “sovereignty and security issues” to “interfere in China’s internal affairs.”