In their first phone call in seven months, US President Joe Biden, 78, and China’s head of state and party Xi Jinping, 68, warned of the risk that tensions between their countries could end in confrontation. “The two leaders discussed the responsibility of both countries to ensure that the competition does not turn into a conflict,” announced the White House on Friday.
“Confrontation between China and the United States would be a catastrophe for both countries and the world,” said Xi Jinping, according to Chinese state media.
“Approach catalogs of problems”
As the White House further reported, both presidents “discussed areas where our interests collide and areas where our interests, values and perspectives diverge”. Biden and Xi had agreed to “tackle both catalogs of problems openly and directly”.
The US president has made it clear that the US is trying to “deal responsibly with competition between the US and the People’s Republic of China”. Biden underscored the US interest in peace, stability and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific region and the rest of the world.
Threats against Taiwan
It was only the second telephone conversation between the two presidents since Biden took office in January. Since the time of his predecessor Donald Trump, the two largest economies have been fighting a trade war with mutual punitive tariffs. There are also differences over the USA’s criticism of a lack of respect for human rights in China, the way it deals with the democratic opposition in Hong Kong and the Muslim Uyghurs in Xinjiang. There is also dispute over China’s territorial claims in the South China Sea and its threats against democratic Taiwan.
Xi Jinping blamed the United States for dropping the relationship to its lowest level since diplomatic relations began in 1979. The China policy, which the US has been pursuing for some time, has “caused serious difficulties for relations”. Whether China and the US dealt well with their relationship is important for the future of the world. “It is the question of the century that both countries have to answer,” said Xi Jinping.
Chance to meet in person
The international community is facing major problems. China and the US should “see the big picture” and look ahead to get their relations back on track, China’s president said. On the basis of respect and the appropriate handling of differences, the dialogue could be continued and cooperation in climate protection, fighting pandemics, economic recovery and regional and international issues advanced. Relations between China and the United States are the most important in the world, said Xi Jinping, according to the state media.
The summit of the group of major economic nations (G20) on October 30th and 31st under the Italian presidency in Rome offers the two presidents an opportunity to meet in person. However, Beijing has not yet announced whether Xi Jinping will travel to Italy under pandemic conditions or whether it would prefer to only attend the deliberations via video for security reasons. For fear of the virus being introduced and because of its strict zero-covid policy, no state guests have been received in Beijing for more than a year. (SDA / bra)