Published: 18:29, November 18, 2022 | Updated: 18:28, November 18, 2022
Xi, Biden aim to put ties back on track
By Xu Wei in Bali, Indonesia

Two sides reach consensus in key areas, commit to more exchanges after leaders meet

President Xi Jinping greets US President Joe Biden in Bali, Indonesia, on Nov 14. (LI XUEREN / XINHUA)

President Xi Jinping and United States President Joe Biden agreed on Nov 14 to take concrete steps to put bilateral ties back on the track of stable development, as the two sides reached consensus on key issues such as climate change, trade, public health, agriculture and food security.

The two leaders had a meeting of about three hours on the sidelines of the G20 Summit in Bali, their first sit-down since Biden took office in January 2021.

Both nations pledged to enable their diplomatic teams to maintain strategic communications and frequent consultations as well as dialogue and coordination on macroeconomic policies, economy and trade, according to a summary of the meeting.

They both highlighted the significance of people-to-people exchanges between China and the US, pledging to expand the exchanges in personnel in various areas.

In his opening remarks, Xi highlighted the joint responsibility he and Biden had in anchoring the future direction of bilateral relations and placing ties on the right track.

“I look forward to working with you, Mr President, to bring China-US relations back to the track of healthy and stable growth to the benefit of our two countries and the world as a whole,” Xi said.

He pointed out that the current state of China-US relations is not in the fundamental interests of the two countries and their people, and is not what the international community expects.

China-US relations should not be a zero-sum game where one side outcompetes or thrives at the expense of the other, and the success of both nations should be seen as opportunities, instead of challenges, for each other, Xi said.

The world is big enough to accommodate the development and common prosperity of both nations, he added.

He called upon the two sides to put each other’s domestic and foreign policies, as well as strategic intentions, in the right perspective, saying that bilateral interactions should be defined by dialogue and win-win cooperation, not confrontation and zero-sum competition.

China has never sought to reshape the current international order, or to interfere in the internal affairs of the US, and China has no intention of challenging or displacing the US, Xi said.

The two sides should respect each other, coexist in peace, pursue win-win cooperation, and work together to ensure that China-US relations move forward on the right course without losing direction or speed, or still less having a collision, Xi added.

Xi gave a full account of the origin of the Taiwan question and China’s principled position.

He stressed that the Taiwan question 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 that must not be crossed in China-US relations. Resolving the Taiwan question is a matter for the Chinese people and China’s internal affair. It is the common aspiration of the Chinese people and nation to realize national reunification and safeguard territorial integrity, Xi said.

Anyone who seeks to split Taiwan from China will be violating the fundamental interests of the Chinese nation, and the Chinese people will absolutely not let that happen, said the president.

Beijing hopes to see, and has been all along committed to, peace and stability across the Taiwan Straits. However, cross-Straits peace and stability and “Taiwan independence” are as irreconcilable as water and fire, Xi said.

The president expressed hope that Washington will match its words with action and abide by the one-China policy and the three joint communiques, and that the US side will act on its assurances with real effect.

Xi also explained to Biden China’s whole-process people’s democracy, saying that China has Chinese-style democracy just as the US has American-style democracy, and both fit their respective national conditions.

He said the so-called “democracy versus authoritarianism” narrative is not the defining feature of today’s world, and does not represent the trend of the times.

The president highlighted the vital importance for the two nations to recognize and respect differences in their paths and systems if they are to get along. 

Even though the two sides have different histories, cultures, social systems and development paths, such differences should not become an obstacle to enhancing the bilateral relations, he said. 

He stressed that starting a trade or technology war, building walls and barriers, and pushing for decoupling and severing supply chains all run counter to the principles of a market economy and undermine international trade rules. 

He reiterated Beijing’s opposition to politicizing and weaponizing economic and trade ties as well as exchanges in science and technology. 

Xi underscored the need for both sides to promote post-COVID global recovery, tackle climate change and resolve regional issues through coordination and cooperation. 

On the Ukraine issue, Xi reiterated China’s strong concern before laying out Beijing’s position. 

Conflicts and wars produce no winner, and confrontation between major countries must be avoided, he said, adding that China has all along stood on the side of peace.

Beijing supports and looks forward to a resumption of peace talks between Russia and Ukraine, and China hopes that the US, NATO and the European Union will conduct comprehensive dialogues with Russia, he said. 

Biden, in his remarks, underscored the responsibility that he and Xi share to show that China and the US can manage differences, prevent competition from becoming near conflict, and find ways to work together on urgent, global issues that require mutual cooperation. 

The US side is committed to keeping the channels of communication open between the two presidents and at all levels of government to allow candid conversations on issues they disagree on, and to strengthen necessary cooperation and play a key role in addressing climate change, food security and other important global challenges, Biden said. 

He reaffirmed that a stable and prosperous China is good for the US and the world, adding that his nation respects China’s system and does not seek to change it. 

He offered assurances that Washington does not seek a new Cold War or to revitalize alliances against China. The US does not support “Taiwan independence”, does not support “two Chinas” or “one China, one Taiwan”, and has no intention to have a conflict with China, he said. 

He added that the US side has no intention to seek decoupling from China, to halt China’s economic development, or to contain China.