U.S. President Biden said Monday his goal for a high-stakes meeting with Chinese leader Xi Jinping is to avoid a war between the two countries.
“We share a responsibility, in my view, to show that China and the United States can manage our differences, prevent competition from becoming anything ever near conflict, and to find ways to work together on urgent global issues that require our mutual cooperation,” Mr. Biden said in a joint appearance with Mr. Xi before their talks in Indonesia. The leaders were there for the Group of 20 summit.
Mr. Xi concurred, saying it was urgent for both nations “to chart the right course” to elevate their relationship.
“Currently, the China-U.S. relationship is in such a situation that we all care a lot about it because this is not [in] the fundamental interests of our two countries and peoples and it is not what the international community expects [from] us,” he said through an interpreter.
The meeting is focused on lowering tensions between the nations and comes at a time when U.S.-China relations are at their lowest level in decades.
U.S. officials watched with increasing worry as China escalates its rhetoric around Taiwan, an island republic that China claims is part of its territory. Yet Beijing is also angry as the U.S. continues to ship defensive weapons to Taiwan.
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Tensions became even further strained earlier this year when House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, California Democrat, traveled to Taiwan.
Weeks ahead of Mrs. Pelosi’s trip, Chinese officials began warning the U.S. that it was “playing with fire” if she visited the island. In retaliation for the August trip, China halted its relations with the U.S. on a range of issues, including climate change and military ties.
China viewed the August trip, the first by a House speaker in 25 years, as support for Taiwan’s independence.
Mr. Biden’s repeated public statements that U.S. troops would defend the island if China invades it, has further eroded tensions between Washington and Beijing.
Although the White House has continually walked back Mr. Biden’s remarks, Beijing reacted with outrage, vowing that any attempt to interfere in Taiwan will be “crushed by the wheels of history.”
• Jeff Mordock can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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