President Biden and Chinese leader Xi Jinping met via video teleconference for more than three hours Monday night and discussed a wide range of issues in a moment of growing international concern over the prospect of the Cold War between the United States and the world’s largest communist power.
While China’s military muscle tension and progress – including its rapidly growing nuclear arsenal and a recent test of a nuclear-capable hypersonic missile – have made global headlines in recent months, a White House summary Monday night’s call did not mention a specific discussion on such issues. between Mr Biden and Mr Xi.
However, the president warned the Chinese leader that US officials are worried about China’s growing aggression against the small island democracy of Taiwan. Mr. Biden also raised concerns about Beijing’s mistreatment of Muslims and ethnic minorities in China’s Xinjiang province and aggressive policies against Hong Kong and Tibet.
Administration officials said in a statement that the president also raised concerns about “human rights more widely.”
On other fronts, Mr Biden was “clear about the need to protect American workers and industries from [China‘s] unfair trade and economic practices, “said a reading from the Biden-Xi conference.” He also discussed the importance of a free and open Indo-Pacific and communicated the continued will of the United States to maintain our commitments in the region. “
“President Biden reiterated the importance of free navigation and safe overflight for the prosperity of the region,” the reading said, adding that “in Taiwan, President Biden emphasized that the United States remains committed to a ‘China’ policy, governed by Taiwan. Relations Act , the three Joint Communiques … and that the United States is strongly opposed to unilateral efforts to change the status quo or undermine peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait. “
While Mr Biden’s comments signaled continued US support for Taiwan, he also reiterated recent statements by Foreign Minister Antony Blinken, who argued that the long-standing “one China” US policy of recognizing Beijing’s sovereignty over Taiwan has not changed.
Friction between the United States and China over Taiwan has grown, with increasing Chinese military intrusion into Taiwanese airspace over the past year and reports of U.S. forces training Taiwanese forces.
Chinese officials have signaled a desire for China to fully absorb Taiwan, and US officials have warned that Beijing could move in the direction of trying to use force to achieve this goal.
During the conference, Mr. Xi took an aggressive stance on the issue. According to China’s Xinhua News Agency, the Chinese leader blamed Taiwan for the tensions, claiming that democracy has sought to gain independence from China through dependence on the United States, and that some on the US side are trying to use Taiwan as a means of interfering. China.
“This is extremely dangerous, it’s playing with fire, and those who play with fire will burn themselves,” Mr. Xi quoted to say by the agency.
Away from the Taiwan issue, US military officials have expressed growing concern over China’s expanding nuclear arsenal. A recent Pentagon report warned that China is heading for more than doubling its arsenal in the coming years and could have 700 deliverable nuclear warheads in 2027 and 1,000 by 2030.
Although there was no specific mention of this in the White House reading of the Biden-Xi conference, the reading said that Mr Biden “stressed the importance of managing strategic risks” with China and “noted the need for railings with sound common sense “to ensure that US-China” competition does not turn into conflict. “
Chinese officials eagerly praised the outcome of the summit, saying on Tuesday that Mr. Biden and Mr. Xi had an honest and constructive exchange of views that sent a strong signal to the world.
The positive description of the meeting stood in stark contrast to heated exchanges between the two nations earlier this year. The conversations seemed to mark what both sides hoped would be a turnaround in the relationship, though there are still big differences.
“If relations between China and the United States can not return to the past, they should face the future,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said on Tuesday.
The video conference between the two leaders and their senior aides was their first formal meeting since Mr. Biden took office in January.
Both Mr Biden and Mr Xi faced home pressure at home, working resolutely to lower the temperature in what for both sides is their most significant – and often turbulent – relationship on the global stage.
“As I have said before, it seems to me that our responsibility as leaders of China and the United States is to ensure that competition between our countries does not develop into conflict, whether intentional or unintentional,” he said. Biden to Mr. Xi at the start of their virtual meeting on Monday. “Just simple, straightforward competition.”
The White House had 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 a significant exchange.
Sir. Xi greeted the US President as his “old friend” and repeated Mr. Biden’s heartfelt tone in his own introductory remarks, saying: “China and the United States need to increase communication and cooperation.”
• This article is based in part on wiring service reports.