Xi calls Biden his 'old friend' as US-China talks begin on a warm note

  • The summit comes amid the rising tension between the United States and China over a number of issues including trade, the South China Sea, human rights violations in Hong Kong and military aggression against Taiwan, and more.
US President Joe Biden waves to Chinese leader Xi Jinping as they begin a virtual meeting from the White House in Washington, U.S.(REUTERS)
US President Joe Biden waves to Chinese leader Xi Jinping as they begin a virtual meeting from the White House in Washington, U.S.(REUTERS)
Published on Nov 16, 2021 09:14 AM IST
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Chinese President Xi Jinping on Tuesday greeted his US counterpart, Joe Biden, as an "old friend" during the virtual summit between Washington and Beijing and said both countries must increase communication and cooperation to solve the many challenges they face.

"It's the first time for us to meet virtually. Although it's not as good as a face-to-face meeting, I'm very happy to see my old friend," the Chinese leader said he began speaking after Biden called for more understanding and cooperation between the two to avoid any conflict, in his opening statement.

Biden too remembered his relationship with Xi while he was the US vice president under the Obama administration from 2009 to 2017. “We spent an awful lot of time talking to each other… Maybe I should start more formally even though you and I have never been that formal with one another,” the US president said.

The summit comes amid the rising tension between the United States and China over a number of issues including trade, the South China Sea, human rights violations in Hong Kong and military aggression against Taiwan, and more. Despite being critical about each other in the past, the meeting on a hopeful note as Biden said that their goal is to ensure competition between the two largest economies, "does not veer into conflict."

"It seems to me we need to establish some common-sense guardrails. To be clear and honest where we disagree, and work together where interests intersect, especially on vital global issues like climate change," Biden said as the summit opened.

Meanwhile, Xi stressed that sound and steady China-US relations are required for advancing the two countries' respective development. “As the world's two largest economies and the permanent members of the UN Security Council, China and the United States need to increase communication and cooperation," he also said.

Xi has not left China for nearly two years and Biden sharply criticised his absence at the recent COP26 climate summit in Glasgow and the G20 summit in Rome.

The highly-anticipated summit is the third engagement between Xi, 68, and the 78-year-old US president, since Biden's inauguration in January. In the past, the two leaders have had lengthy discussions over a phone call.

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