Biden and Xi Discuss Avoiding Conflict and Improve Ties

September 11, 2021

On Thursday, US President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping held their first talks in seven months, speaking for 90 minutes about the importance of not allowing competition between the world’s two largest economies to devolve into conflict. The US side stated that the “proof will be in the pudding” as to whether the stalemate can be broken, with relations between the superpowers at an all-time low. According to the White House, Biden and Xi had “a broad, strategic discussion,” which included areas where interests and values converged and diverged. According to a senior US official, the discussion focused on economic issues, climate change, and Covid-19.

“President Biden emphasized the United States’ long – lasting interest in peace, stability, and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific and around the world, and the two leaders addressed the responsibility of both countries to ensure competition does not devolve into conflict,” according to the statement. Occasional high-level meetings since Xi and Biden’s initial call in February have yielded little progress on a variety of issues, ranging from human rights to openness about the origins of Covid-19.

During the months since, the two sides have almost constantly lashed out at each other, frequently forced to resort to contentious public attacks, slapping sanctions on each other’s officials, and condemning each other for failing to uphold their international obligations. According to Chinese state media, Xi told Biden that US policy toward China causes “serious difficulties” in relations, but both sides agreed to maintain frequent contact and to ask working level teams to increase communications.

“China and the United States should demonstrate strategic courage and insight as well as political boldness, and return Sino-US relations to the path of stable development as soon as possible,” the state media report said, citing Xi. Asian currencies and stock markets rose on Friday, as investors rumored that the call could lead to a thaw in relations between the region’s two most important trading partners.

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