Biden holds 1st virtual bilateral meeting with Xi and says he wants to prevent competition from ending up in conflict


US President Joe Biden holds his first virtual bilateral meeting with Chinese leader Xi Jinping this Monday night (15), in which the two will seek to review several points to ensure that the competition between the two biggest powers on the planet do not generate a conflict. The conversation started around 7:45 pm in Washington (9:45 pm in Brasília) and should last around three hours.

At the beginning of the conversation, witnessed by some journalists, Biden said that he expected a sincere and direct dialogue. “We have a responsibility to the world and our peoples,” said the American leader.

“I’m happy to see an old friend again,” Xi said at the beginning of the meeting. The two have known each other for years, having held several meetings when the Democrat was vice president, from 2009 to 2017. “Humanity lives in a global village, and we face many challenges together. China and the US need to increase their cooperation and integration.” , continued the Chinese leader.

Before the meeting, US government officials indicated, in private conversations with the press, that Biden intends to make clear at the meeting what the American intentions are, in order to avoid future misunderstandings. “[A conversa] it’s an opportunity for President Biden to tell President Xi directly that he expects him to abide by international rules, which is what responsible nations are expected to do,” a White House official said, anonymously.

On the other hand, Zhao Lijian, a spokesman for Chinese diplomacy, said relations between the two countries were “at a critical intersection”, and that China expected the US to look for ways to strengthen dialogue and cooperation, so to bring relationships back on the tracks of stable development.

China and the US have clashes on issues such as Taiwan’s future, the militarization of the South China Sea and Pacific countries, digital security and international trade rules. Americans accuse the Chinese of competing unfairly, by subsidizing Chinese companies with public money, for example. They also point out cases of disrespect for human rights. There are allegations that Muslims are kept under extreme surveillance and restrictions on freedom in the Xinjiang region, for example.

Xi’s government considers Taiwan a rebel province, and has expanded its military presence in the region, raising fears of a blockade or invasion. The island, home to 23 million people, welcomed Chinese leaders who went into exile after the Communist Revolution of 1949, and has the US as a military ally.

Biden also planned to address issues where the two governments could help each other. A cooperation agreement between the two countries in the environmental area was announced last week, to reduce methane emissions and coal consumption. However, Biden was sharply critical of Xi’s absence from the conference. “I think it was a big mistake, frankly, that China didn’t show up,” Biden told a news conference, accusing his rival of “turning his back” on the “gigantic” problem facing the planet.

Since the beginning of the government, Biden and Xi have had two phone conversations, in February and September, but they did not meet in person. The Chinese leader has not traveled abroad since the beginning of the pandemic.

In his first year in office, the Democrat lowered the level of tension with China, compared to the government of his predecessor, Donald Trump, but continues to put pressure on the Asian country. He has made it clear that he intends to put the US in a better position to surpass the Chinese in several areas, while seeking to contain the advance of Asian companies in the American market, especially in the area of ​​technology.

Last week, for example, Biden passed a law to prevent companies considered a threat to US security, such as China’s Huawei and ZTE Corp, from receiving new licenses from US regulatory authorities for their equipment.

Xi has been in charge of China since 2013 and is experiencing a moment of reaffirmation of his power. Last week, a Communist Party resolution, considered historic, reinforced support for the current leader, who is now considered the strongest leader since Mao Zedong, who commanded the Communist Revolution of 1949. The resolution paves the way for Xi seek a third term. The re-election limit was removed in 2018.

In the US, Biden is looking to rebound after a fall in popularity, driven by a variety of reasons, including the abrupt withdrawal from Afghanistan in August, a rise in inflation and the delay in approving investment packages. One, the $1.2 trillion in infrastructure, was sanctioned by Biden this Monday afternoon. The other, of social and environmental investments, is being debated in Congress.

Despite the tensions, the two powers have strongly integrated economies. In 2020, the US imported $434 billion worth of Chinese products, and exported $124 billion to the Asian country.


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