Virtual summit between Joe Biden and Xi Jinping, without illusion in the face of growing tensions

Joe Biden and Xi Jinping held a highly anticipated virtual summit on Monday, November 15, with the US president stressing the need for “Safeguards” to avoid ” a conflict “ between the two countries and its Chinese counterpart pleading for a better « communication ».

Joe Biden assured that “The competition between the two countries should not turn into a conflict, whether intentional or not”, during this exchange which took place while disputes accumulate between Washington and Beijing, about Taiwan, but also trade and human rights. He told Xi Jinping of his “Concerns” on human rights, and warned China against any “Unilateral attempt” to change Taiwan’s status, the White House said after the summit.

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“China and the United States must improve their communication and cooperation”, said Xi Jinping, who said he was happy to see “His old friend”, for the first time by interposed screens, while their two previous exchanges had been made over the phone. “I am ready to work with you”, continued the Chinese president.

The conversation between the two leaders lasted almost four hours. It ended at 12:24 p.m. Chinese time (5:24 a.m. KST) on Tuesday, Chinese state media reported.

At “a critical crossroads”

In Washington as in Beijing, expectations were tempered on Monday for this discussion, which could not lead to “Concrete results”, warned the White House.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said on Monday that the two leaders would “A frank, deep and complete exchange of views” on their bilateral relations, which are “A critical crossroads”.

Joe Biden would have liked to see in flesh and blood the Chinese president, whom he boasts of having already frequented extensively when he was vice-president of Barack Obama. But he had to be content with a virtual meeting with Xi Jinping, who has not left China for nearly two years, citing health reasons.

If after the coming to power of Joe Biden, the tone has changed compared to the outbursts of the Trump era, the relationship between Washington and Beijing remains extremely tense.

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The fate of Taiwan at the heart of tensions

The fate of Taiwan is currently the focus of tension. “In order to reduce the risk of a strategic collision between China and the United States, the latter must take a step back from the Taiwan issue and show restraint”, stressed the Chinese state daily Global Times highlighted in an editorial Monday. A senior White House official denounced him “Coercive and provocative behavior” of China towards Taiwan as one of the subjects of litigation, and stressed that Joe Biden would not fail to approach this subject in a “Direct and frank”.

This virtual meeting took place at a time when Xi Jinping continues to strengthen his grip on the regime. The Chinese Communist Party passed a text last week calling for “The whole Party, army and people to unite more closely around the Central Committee of which Xi Jinping forms the heart”.

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Jen Psaki felt Joe Biden, despite his plummeting popularity ratings, would arrive “In a position of strength” at his meeting with Xi Jinping, because the United States is going to renovate its economy and has undertaken to strengthen its international alliances.

The US president, faced with an extremely divided political landscape, and a pandemic he is struggling to eradicate, mentioned China on Monday by promulgating a gigantic infrastructure plan, supposed to allow America to “To win the competition” of XXIe century. At the end of his speech, the American president repeated one of his favorite phrases: “It’s never, ever a good idea to bet against the American people. “

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The World with AFP

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Virtual summit between Joe Biden and Xi Jinping, without illusion in the face of growing tensions

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