On Wednesday, Joe Biden and Xi Jinping met in California and greeted each other with handshakes and smiles. They engaged in direct discussions, aiming to improve the relationship between the US and China.
The president of the United States began his speech by expressing his belief that the strained relationship between the two nations should not escalate into a conflict.
The leader of China stated that the superpowers cannot afford to ignore each other. He believes that there is enough space on Earth for both countries to thrive, and the success of one can benefit the other.
Xi stated that the relationship between the United States and China is of utmost significance and carries great weight. He acknowledged that both he and Biden have major responsibilities towards their respective nations, the global community, and future generations.
He stated that for two major nations such as China and the United States, rejecting each other is not a viable choice. It is not feasible for either side to try to change the other, and engaging in conflict and confrontation would have severe consequences for both parties.
The White House later stated that the meeting was open and productive. They also mentioned that the two leaders talked about various issues concerning both their countries and the world, and shared their perspectives on areas where they differ.
This was the initial encounter between the two leaders in a year. It occurred following the release of a joint statement on climate change by the two nations, and more agreements are anticipated at the upcoming Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) summit in San Francisco.
Xi and Biden’s meeting occurred after their nations made a commitment to collaborate in addressing global warming, recognizing the climate emergency as a major challenge of our era.
The statement increases optimism for the possibility of repairing the strained relationship between the two countries, which has been marred by conflicts over topics such as trade, human rights, and the status of Taiwan.
Following discussions on climate change in the US, a collective declaration was made, promising to effectively execute an important United Nations summit on the topic beginning later this month in Dubai. They also reaffirmed their commitment to the objectives outlined in the 2015 Paris Agreement, aiming to keep global warming to below 2C and striving to limit it to 1.5C.
The statement acknowledged that the United States and China both understand the impact of the climate crisis on countries worldwide. They have committed to collaborating in order to confront one of the most pressing issues of our time, for the benefit of current and future generations.
The meeting between Xi and Biden has been described by American officials as a chance to decrease tension in what is often viewed as the most hazardous rivalry in the world.
This follows a succession of agreements designed to establish a minimum standard for their partnership. Along with the recent climate agreement released on Tuesday, Beijing and Washington are anticipated to come to an agreement regarding monitoring the supply of fentanyl from China to the United States.
The United States is aiming to resume military discussions, which have mostly been on hold since Nancy Pelosi, the former speaker of the House of Representatives, visited Taiwan last year.
As January approaches, elections in Taipei are predicted to put a strain on relations between Taiwan and China. As a result, the Xi-Biden talks are likely to focus on the high tensions surrounding Taiwan. China is eager to confront what it perceives as a concerning shift in the Biden administration towards increased backing for Taiwan’s self-governance, despite China’s claim of sovereignty over the island.
Prior to the summit, Chinese state media has shifted to a friendlier attitude towards the US. The Communist party’s official newspaper, the People’s Daily, stated in its international edition: “The Chinese people will always remember their old friends, and this is a crucial message we wish to convey to the American people.” The typically combative Global Times newspaper urged for cooperation between the two nations.
An important aspect highlighted in the climate statement was the mutual agreement of both nations to make “economy-wide” nationally determined contributions (NDCs) towards reducing all greenhouse gas emissions, rather than just focusing on CO2.2
China has previously refused to specify the specific sectors of its economy that would be included in its climate commitments.
Li Shuo, the new head of the China Climate Hub at the Asia Society Policy Institute, stated that the term “economy-wide” NDCs suggests a strict structure that will improve the visibility of China’s emissions. This aligns with a goal that the US has advocated for a long time.
In an effort to reignite stalled cooperation, the climate envoys of the US and China, John Kerry and Xie Zhenhua, met at the Sunnylands resort in California this month. It is widely accepted among experts that meeting the Paris goals will require a significant joint endeavor to decrease greenhouse gas emissions within the next decade.
On Tuesday, Xi made his first trip to the US in six years. He greeted officials, such as treasury secretary Janet Yellen and US ambassador to China Nicholas Burns, from atop a passenger staircase attached to his Air China plane before joining them on the San Francisco tarmac.
After that, he entered his Chinese Hongqi limousine, also known as the red flag, and left the airport for the city. There are expected to be both supporters and protesters demonstrating during his visit.
Biden’s objective during his discussions with Xi is to enhance the relationship with China following a time of tense connections. He plans to reestablish regular communication between the two dominant nations, including military communication. According to the White House’s national security spokesperson, John Kirby, Biden and Xi will also address the Israel-Hamas conflict in Gaza and US initiatives to assist Ukraine.
Before Xi arrived, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke to the 21-member Apec ministers and emphasized the US’s belief in a region where economies have the freedom to choose their own paths and where goods, ideas, and people can flow freely and lawfully.
Blinken’s comments did not directly address China, but his words mirrored the language used by the US in recent years. The US has repeatedly accused Beijing of intimidating smaller nations in the Indo-Pacific area and attempting to disrupt the established “rules-based” system, according to the US and its allies.
During the Apec ministerial session in San Francisco, the US trade representative Katherine Tai, along with Blinken, expressed concerns about the current state of the region. Tai acknowledged the presence of growing political tensions, vulnerable supply chains, and a deteriorating climate crisis.
Biden stated that the United States does not intend to disconnect from China, but rather, hopes to improve the economic relationship between the two nations. His administration has taken steps to reduce potential risks in key American supply chains from China, as the economic and military rivalry between the two countries has intensified.
However, the US has made efforts to reassure nations in the area, such as China, that it is not aiming for complete economic isolation. This idea has raised worries among the US’s partners and allies of a potential confrontation between superpowers that could disrupt the worldwide economy.
Hundreds of individuals, mostly in support of China, held Chinese flags and congregated outside the hotel where the Chinese delegation was staying before Xi’s arrival in the United States. In recent times, associations for Chinese people living abroad and alumni groups of Chinese universities have been actively recruiting members to greet Xi during his visit.
Bigger demonstrations are anticipated to take place near the summit location on Wednesday, involving rights organizations that are critical of Xi’s approach to Tibet, Hong Kong, and the Uyghur Muslim population.
Contributions were made by Reuters and Agence France-Presse in the reporting process.