Explained: What Happened at the Biden-Xi Summit, Why It Matters to India

Explained: What Happened at the Biden-Xi Summit, Why It Matters to India

US President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping met for three and a half hours on Tuesday, the two leaders’ first virtual bilateral meeting since Biden took office in January this year.

Biden joined from the White House; Xi of the Great Hall of Beijing. The president of the United States took the initiative of the summit, in tune with the concern of the United States that it should try to avoid military engagement with China.

The two leaders had spoken twice by phone earlier this year, but there had been no formal summit before Tuesday’s meeting.

What happened at the meeting?

The statements issued later showed clear divergences in the positions taken by the two parties.

Biden spoke about China’s human rights violations and Beijing’s trade policy. “President Biden expressed concern about the practices of the People’s Republic of China in Xinjiang, Tibet and Hong Kong, as well as human rights in general,” the White House said in a statement.

“He was clear about the need to protect American workers and industries from the unfair economic and business practices of the People’s Republic of China,” he said.

Biden also “discussed the importance of a free and open Indo-Pacific, and communicated the continued determination of the United States to defend [US] commitments in the region. [He] reiterated the importance of freedom of navigation and safe overflight for the prosperity of the region, “said the US reading.

On the hot topic of Taiwan, the reading said that Biden had stressed that “The United States remains committed to the policy of ‘one China’, guided by the Taiwan Relations Act, the three Joint Communiqués and the Six Guarantees,” and “He strongly opposes unilateral efforts to change the status quo or undermine peace and stability throughout the Taiwan Strait.”

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President Xi, for his part, raised the issue of US support for Taiwan and the alliances and groupings that created “divisions” in the world. This was a reference to the Quad group, which includes India, and the AUKUS agreement between Australia, the UK and the US to deliver nuclear powered submarines to Canberra.

Chinese state media reported that Xi had said: “We are patient and ready to fight for the prospect of peaceful reunification.” [of Taiwan with China] with the utmost sincerity … But China will have to take decisive action if the separatist forces of ‘Taiwan independence’ provoke, compel or even cross the red line. “

“It is playing with fire, and if you play with fire, you will get burned,” Xi warned according to the Chinese reading.

So was the meeting a forum for two of the most powerful men in the world to vent their anger on each other?

Although there was no agreement or joint statement, the meeting was an opportunity to keep “the lines of communication open,” according to the White House statement.

Biden said: “It seems to me that our responsibility as leaders of China and the United States is to ensure that competition between our countries does not escalate into conflict, whether intentional or not. Simple and direct competition “.

He also spoke about a mechanism to deal with crises.

“It seems to me that we need to set some common sense barriers, be clear and honest when we disagree, and work together where our interests intersect, especially on vital global issues like climate change,” Biden said.

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US President Joe Biden greets Chinese leader Xi Jinping as he begins a virtual meeting from the White House in Washington. (Reuters)

President Xi, in turn, said: “China and the United States should respect each other, coexist in peace, and seek mutually beneficial cooperation. I am willing to work with you, Mr. President, to build consensus, take active steps, and move China-US relations forward in a positive direction.

“Doing so would promote the interests of our two peoples and meet the expectations of the international community.”

Biden recalled that he and Xi had “spent a great deal of time talking to each other” since he was vice president, and Xi was an important figure in Chinese leadership.

Xi said, “Although it is not as good as a face-to-face meeting, I am very happy to see my old friend.”

The first face-to-face meeting between US and Chinese officials in Alaska in March witnessed a public exchange of accusations. From then on, Tuesday’s meeting marked an effort to reduce rhetoric.

How does India view the Biden-Xi meeting?

A process of talks between the United States and China is something that India watches very closely.

India and China have been caught in a border confrontation for over a year and a half, New Delhi is part of the Quad, and its strategic alignment with the US has been very clear and categorical.

The US administrations under Presidents Trump and Biden have viewed China as a strategic rival.

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