President Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping on Monday held a long-awaited in-person meeting in Bali, Indonesia, amid simmering tensions between the US and China.
According to the Chinese Foreign Ministry’s readout of the meeting, Xi’s message to Biden was that the current state of US-China relations is in nobody’s interest.
“President Xi pointed out the current state of China-US relations is not in the fundamental interests of the two countries and peoples and is not what the international community expects,” the ministry said.
The readout said that Xi stressed the two powers should work together to put relations back on track and that China does not seek to supplant the US as the world’s leading power.
“The two sides should respect each other, coexist in peace, pursue win-win cooperation, and work together to ensure that China-US relations move forward on the right course without losing direction or speed, still less having a collision,” the readout said.
According to the White House, President Biden told Xi that the US will “continue to compete vigorously” with China, signaling the US doesn’t plan to change course. US officials said before the meeting that the talks will be more about managing tensions rather than resolving issues.
Biden said that the competition should not “veer into conflict and underscored that the United States and China must manage the competition responsibly and maintain open lines of communication.”
Discussing Taiwan, Xi warned Biden that the issue was a red line for Beijing. The Chinese leader “stressed that the Taiwan question is at the very core of China’s core interests, the bedrock of the political foundation of China-US relations, and the first red line that must not be crossed.”
In recent years, the US has worked to increase ties with Taiwan and the Biden-Xi meeting comes as Congress is working on legislation that would give the island unprecedented support in the form of billions in military aid. Biden has also said that he would intervene militarily in the event of a Chinese attack on Taiwan, seemingly breaking from the decades-long policy of strategic ambiguity on the issue.
Despite these steps, Biden claimed to Xi that the US was still committed to the one-China policy. The White House said that Biden “laid out in detail that our one China policy has not changed, the United States opposes any unilateral changes to the status quo by either side.”
The White House said that Biden raised objections to China’s “coercive and increasingly aggressive actions toward Taiwan.” Beijing recently launched its largest-ever military drills around Taiwan, which included firing missiles over the island. But they came in response to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) visiting Taiwan. China made clear ahead of her trip that they would view it as a major provocation and respond, but she still went ahead with the visit.
While tensions between the US and China show no sign of waning in the near future, both sides agreed to maintain high-level communications. After the meeting, the White House said that Secretary of State Antony Blinken will soon make his first trip to China.
The two leaders discussed other global issues, including the war in Ukraine and the tensions on the Korean peninsula. Xi told Biden that China supports the idea of peace talks between Russia and Ukraine and hopes that the US and its Western allies will also conduct a dialogue with Moscow.