On the sidelines of the G20 Summit, U.S. President Joe Biden met with Chinese President Xi Jinping, in the first in-person meeting between the leaders since Biden became President. Tensions between China and the U.S. have been rapidly deteriorating over issues like Taiwan and global trade, so expectations were fairly low going into Monday's summit. However, after three hours of meeting, both leaders expressed an openness to repairing the relationship and restoring channels of communication over a variety of issues, including climate change, health, and food security.
"The two presidents agreed that their respective diplomatic teams should maintain strategic communication and conduct regular consultations; their financial teams will continue dialogue and coordination on macroeconomic policies, economic ties and trade ...They agreed to make good use of the China-U.S. joint working group to promote the resolution of more issues," a readout from China's Foreign Ministry said.
However, there are still thorny issues remaining in the relationship, including divisions over Taiwan and Russia's invasion of Ukraine. When pressed by journalists about the fractious issue of the future of Taiwan, Biden added: "I'm not suggesting this is Kumbaya."
Biden framed the U.S.' rivalry with China as "democracy versus authoritarianism," whereas Xi apparently pushed back and claimed that China has a "Chinese-style democracy." He said neither the U.S. nor China "should try to remake the other in one's own image, or seek to change or even subvert the other's system."
The two leaders also discussed human rights, semiconductor technology, and North Korea, and reaffirmed that they opposed the use of nuclear weapons in Ukraine. Xi reiterated China's calls for peace in Ukraine, while adding there was "no simple solution to a complex problem."
The State Department said that Secretary of State Antony Blinken will visit China in person sometime early next year to follow up on the Xi-Biden meeting.
Read more in "A Thaw in the Tropics? Presidents Biden and Xi Lower the Temperature in Bali," by David Shambaugh, a Gaston Sigur Professor of Asian Studies and Director of the China Policy Program at George Washington University.
Prepared by China-US Focus editorial teams in Hong Kong and New York, this weekly newsletter offers you snap shots of latest trends and developments emerging from China every week, while adding a dose of historical perspective.