Biden, Xi hold talks amid strained bilateral ties
They met amid deeply strained bilateral ties over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and Beijing’s staunch support to Moscow, US’ deepening ties with Taiwan and the volatile situation in North Korea besides the dragging tension over trade
BEIJING: President Xi Jinping on Monday told his US counterpart Joe Biden that the current state of bilateral ties was not in the interest of the two countries as the two leaders opened their first in-person meeting since Biden took office in early 2021.
They met amid deeply strained bilateral ties over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and Beijing’s staunch support to Moscow, US’ deepening ties with Taiwan and the volatile situation in North Korea besides the dragging tension over trade.
Xi and Biden’s highly-anticipated in-person meeting took place in the Indonesian island of Bali ahead of the G20 summit, beginning on Tuesday.
Biden and Xi, who have held five phone or video calls since Biden became president, last met in person during the Barack Obama administration when Biden was vice-president.
On Monday, the two leaders shook hands in front of a row of Chinese and US flags as they met at the luxury hotel Mulia in Nusa Dua bay in Bali.
“The world has come to a crossroads,” Xi said, vowing a “candid” discussion of issues that have riven relations between the world’s two leading powers. “The world expects that China and the US will properly handle the relationship,” he said.
“Currently, the state of China-US relations is not in the fundamental interests of the two countries and their people,” Xi said, adding that it is not “what the international community expects from the two countries either”.
“The world has come to a crossroads. Where to go from here? This is a question that is not just on our mind, but also on the mind of all countries,” Xi said, noting that the world expects “China and the US will properly handle their relationship”.
Xi’s remarks were released in Beijing by the official Chinese news agency Xinhua on Monday evening.
As leaders of two major countries, they need to play the leadership role, set the right course for the China-US relationship and put it on an upward trajectory, Xi told Biden.
Biden, according to a Reuters report from Bali, said he wanted the US and China to “manage our differences, prevent competition from becoming conflict”.
“As the leaders of our two nations, we share responsibility, in my view, to show that China and the United States can manage our differences, prevent competition from ... turning into conflict, and to find ways to work together on urgent global issues that require our mutual cooperation,” Biden said.
Both Xi and Biden have come to Bali with their political standing strengthened at home.
While the Democrats under Biden unexpectedly remained in control of the US Senate during the midterms, Xi’s Bali visit comes less than a month after he emerged as China’s leader for a norm-breaking third term, making him the most powerful Chinese leader since modern China’s founder, Mao Zedong.
Experts do not expect much at the end of the Xi-Biden meet.
“It’s hard to imagine this (the meeting) will be successful. Even when the US and China have shared interests, we often have different ways we like to achieve our goals (we want to sanction North Korea, and China wants to give it more aid),” Oriana Skylar Mastro, Centre Fellow, Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies, Stanford University, said.
“Even if we manage to work together on some of these issues, that will not create goodwill that we can cash in over more sensitive issues like Taiwan. If anything, Beijing’s view will be ‘now we’ve done you this favour, so what are you going to give us?’”