Washington / Peking US President Joe Biden is betting on “heavy competition” in dealing with China, but he wants to prevent open conflict. A senior White House official in Washington announced that Biden will represent this session in a video conference with Chinese President and Party Leader Xi Jinping on Monday evening (local time, 1:45 a.m. CET). China, in turn, expressed the hope that “the two sides will appropriately deal with the differences.” “We hope the United States will work in the same direction with China,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian told the press in Beijing.
The United States has made it clear that it expects China to abide by international standards. “The United States and the People’s Republic of China are in fierce competition. We believe that intense competition also requires intense diplomacy,” the official said. The aim of the meeting should therefore be to clarify the course of the US government “in order to avoid misunderstandings”. Biden will also address contentious issues related to Taiwan, human rights, and Beijing’s behavior in some economic and technology sectors “very directly and openly.”
“We believe this meeting at the highest level is important in order to manage competition responsibly,” the official said. From the US point of view, tangible results are not expected to switch the video. Instead, it should be about keeping channels of communication and diplomacy open. The goal of the President of the United States is “that competition does not lead to conflict.” In dealing with China, the government also relies on closer consultation and standardized behavior with its democratic allies.
Biden also wants to discuss global issues with Xi that the United States and China can work on together. This includes, for example, climate change and health care, the official said. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian also adopted a conciliatory tone. China wants to expand dialogue and “work in the same direction” with the United States in order to put relations “on the right track.”
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The two presidents have spoken by phone twice since Biden took office in January – the last time in September. Both warned of the danger of an end to the tensions between their countries in a confrontation. Biden sees Beijing as the strongest competitor and number one geopolitical challenge. The People’s Communist Republic is the second largest economy in the world after the United States. Washington is also watching China’s growing claim to power in Asia with great suspicion.
On the other hand, Beijing has repeatedly accused the United States of interfering in its internal affairs. Beijing rejects US criticism of the lack of respect for human rights in China, the suppression of the democratic movement in Hong Kong and the persecution of Uyghur Muslims. There are also geopolitical tensions: the United States rejects China’s territorial claims in the South China Sea and threats against democratic Taiwan. On the other hand, Beijing considers Taiwan a part of the People’s Republic of China. The topic of punitive tariffs, which was highly controversial under Biden’s predecessor Donald Trump, should not play a part in the conversation.
The Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman stressed that Taiwan “is the most sensitive and important issue in bilateral relations.” It concerns China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. Tensions over Taiwan have intensified recently – among other things, due to increased provocations by the Chinese military. China threatens the island with a forced invasion for “reunification”. Biden then spoke of a US “commitment” to defend Taiwan in the event of an attack on China.
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