US-China relations; Biden and Xi meet, promise to manage differences

Two years after becoming president of the United States, President Joe Biden met for the first time with his Chinese counterpart, President Xi Jinping for a face-to-face talk on the sidelines of the G20 summit held in Bali, Indonesia.

What did both discuss?

Nothing really substantial. Both leaders of the world’s two largest economies greeted each other with a handshake at a luxury resort on Indonesia’s Bali island yesterday, Monday, November 14th, where they are both attending the G20 summit. In an opening statement during the meeting, President Biden said:

“As leaders of our two nations, we share responsibility, in my view, to show that China and the United States can manage their differences, prevent competition from becoming anything ever near conflict, and find ways to work together on urgent global issues that require our mutual cooperation”.

On his part, President Xi Jinping said he hopes they would “chart the right course for the China-US relationship”, adding that he was prepared for a “candid and in-depth exchange of Views” with the US president.

What you should know

Diplomatic relations between the two economic giants of the world have been at their lowest ebb in recent years, taking a nosedive during the administration of former President Donald Trump. Trade relations, human rights abuses, and security differences are the major contentions between the two countries. 

The Biden administration has on several occasions condemned the Chinese government’s human rights abuses against the Uighur people and other ethnic minorities, military provocation against Taiwan; with President Biden vowing to defend Taiwan in the event of China’s invasion, and very recently, Xi’s refusal to condemn Russia’s war in Ukraine.

There is palpable fear that tension between the US, China and Russia could mare the G20 summit. However, both leaders are showing signs of finding a way to build trust and reduce tension in their diplomatic ties.

Before their meeting, the White House in a briefing said they needed red lines and have to work out what each other’s limits are on key issues.

Also, the spokesperson of the Chinese Foreign Ministry, Mao Ning said China was committed to peaceful coexistence, but would firmly defend its sovereignty, security, and development.

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