President Joe Biden and China’s Xi Jinping’s more than three-hour virtual talk concluded with the leaders of the superpowers agreeing they need to tread carefully as their nations find themselves in an increasingly tense competition.
Facing domestic pressures at home, both Presidents Biden and Xi seemed determined to defuse what for both sides is their most significant yet frequently turbulent relationship on the global stage. Xi greeted the U.S. president as his “old friend” and echoed Biden’s cordial tone in his own opening remarks, saying, “China and the United States need to increase communication and cooperation.”
The White House set low expectations for the meeting, and no major announcements or even a joint statement were delivered. Still, White House officials said the two leaders had what they called “a substantive exchange”. As the U.S.-China tensions have mounted, both leaders also have found themselves under the weight of increased challenges in their own backyards.
I’m meeting with President Xi of the People’s Republic of China to responsibly manage the competition between our countries. It’s about speaking candidly and directly with him and ensuring the competition does not veer into conflict.
— President Biden (@POTUS) November 16, 2021
“As I’ve said before, it seems to me our responsibility as leaders of China and the United States is to ensure that the competition between our countries does not veer into conflict, whether intended or unintended,” President Biden told Xi at the start of their virtual meeting Monday. “Just simple, straightforward competition.”
As U.S.-China talks opened, President Joe Biden and Chinese leader Xi Jinping stressed their responsibility to the rest of the world to avoid conflict https://t.co/JvHsIn3Hhf pic.twitter.com/9OAn7maVCm
— Reuters (@Reuters) November 16, 2021
President Biden said he would have preferred to meet Xi in person, but the Chinese leader has not left his country since the start of the coronavirus pandemic. The White House floated the idea of a virtual meeting as the next best thing to allow for the two leaders to have a candid conversation about a wide range of strains in the relationship. The President was joined in the Roosevelt Room by Secretary of State Antony Blinken and a handful of aides for the video call. Xi, for his part, was accompanied in the East Hall of the Great Hall of the People by a number of close advisers.
State Councillor &FM Wang Yi had a telephone conversation with Secretary Blinken to prepare the meeting between President Xi and President Biden. They exchanged views on a variety of issues. https://t.co/BgCLCZaoEF
— Zhang Jun (@ChinaAmbUN) November 13, 2021