“Frank” discussions and “progress” made between Joe Biden and Xi Jinping

US President Joe Biden and his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, met in California on Wednesday, November 15, for the first time in a year with the aim of easing tensions between the two world superpowers on various issues, such as armed conflicts, artificial intelligence and drug trafficking.

Joe Biden welcomed Xi Jinping to the Filoli estate, located nearly fifty kilometers south of San Francisco, in the wealthy town of Woodside, where a summit of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Forum is being held ( APEC).

At the start of their meeting, the American president declared that the United States and China must ensure that competition between the two capitals does not “do not turn into conflict” and manage their bilateral relationship in a manner ” responsible “believing that issues such as those relating to climate change and artificial intelligence demanded their joint attention.

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Speaking via social network X after this first session of discussions and before a lunch with his Chinese counterpart, Joe Biden also said that it was vital that the two leaders get along. “There are global challenges that require our joint leadership. And today we have made real progress”he wrote.

The White House said in a statement that the two presidents had discussions “frank and constructive” on a range of bilateral and global issues.

Xi Jinping reminded Joe Biden, at the start of their meeting on Wednesday, that a lot had happened since their previous summit, in 2022, in Bali. “The world has emerged from the Covid-19 pandemic but still remains under its considerable impact. The global economy is recovering but its momentum remains slow »said the Chinese president.

“Turning our backs is not an option”

Describing Sino-US relations as “the most important bilateral relations in the world”Xi Jinping said it was up to Joe Biden and himself to “take important responsibilities for the two peoples, for the world and for history”. “For two big countries like China and the United States, turning their backs on each other is not an option”said the Chinese president, adding that he was “unrealistic” for a camp to seek to “remodel” the other, highlighting the serious consequences of a confrontation for the two countries.

Tensions between Washington and Beijing increased at the start of the year when the United States shot down an alleged Chinese spy balloon above its territory, an incident regretted by China which rejected the American accusations.

The presidential delegations of the United States and the People's Republic of China, in Woodside, California, November 15, 2023.

Xi Jinping warned on Wednesday that US sanctions against Chinese companies were harming “legitimate interests” from Beijing, state media of the People’s Republic also reported. “US actions against China regarding export controls (…) [et] investments and unilateral sanctions seriously harm China’s legitimate interests”Mr. Xi declared to Mr. Biden during their interview, reported the national news agency Xinhua.

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High-level ministerial meetings have been organized in recent months with the aim of avoiding an escalation of tensions between the two countries. The head of American diplomacy, Antony Blinken, notably visited China in June.

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Joe Biden, campaigning for a second term, and Xi Jinping, faced with a degraded economic and social situation in his country, have, ultimately, an interest in ensuring that their rivalry remains under control throughout a potentially tumultuous 2024, with a presidential election in the United States but also in Taiwan. The status of the island, of which Beijing claims sovereignty and to which Washington provides substantial military assistance, remains a central subject of friction.

Communications and fentanyl

Joe Biden “will clearly say (…) that we do not support Taiwan independence” And “that we do not want the status quo to change unilaterally, and certainly not by force”indicated a White House spokesperson, John Kirby, reaffirming the deliberately ambiguous position of the United States.

Washington also asks China, an ally of Iran and Russia, not to aggravate the major international crises in progress: the conflict between Israel and Palestinian Hamas as well as the war in Ukraine.

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The two leaders also agreed to resume high-level military communications, Beijing state media reported Thursday. “Chinese President Xi Jinping and United States President Joe Biden agreed on Wednesday to resume high-level military communications on the basis of equality and respect”wrote the New China news agency.

Xi Jinping also agreed to take measures “consequential” against fentanyl trafficking. This powerful synthetic opiate, which is produced with chemical compounds from China in particular, causes tens of thousands of overdoses each year in the United States.

Le Monde with Reuters

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