The leaders of the two most powerful countries in the world also regularly work from home. With a big smile, US President Biden greeted his Chinese counterpart at the start of the video call last night.
“I am very happy to see my old friend,” said President Xi Jinping. The two have known each other since they were both vice presidents. Now they are in charge and after a long period of escalating tensions it seems they want to remove the cold from the air.
“It is our responsibility as leaders to ensure that competition between our two countries, intentionally or unintentionally, does not turn into conflict,” Biden said at the start of the meeting. These usually happen behind fully closed doors. But the first minutes of this conversation were filmed.
Pictures show that the Chinese president is also taking a constructive attitude. For example, Xi Jinping demands more communication and mutual cooperation with the United States. But when the cameras disappear, the tone changes and turns to controversies.
This can be read in the contrasting summaries of the conversation provided by China and the United States. “President Biden has expressed concerns about the practices of the Communist Party in Xinjiang, Tibet and Hong Kong, as well as about human rights in general,” the White House said.
These concerns do not appear in the summary provided by the Chinese state news agency. “If you go through the summaries, you’ll find really noticeable differences between what the countries say was discussed,” said Chinese reporter Roland Smead.
This is especially noticeable when it comes to Taiwan. China considers the island on the southern coast of China a rebellious region and threatens to capture it. America strongly opposes and supports Taiwan and its freedoms such as democracy and independent trade with foreign countries. In addition, Taiwan is an important ally of the United States in the region.
Taiwan is the sticking point during the talks. This is also evident from the various summaries of the conversation. According to the Chinese news agency, Biden said that America supports the one-China policy and opposes Taiwan independence.
“But you don’t read the last part about independence at all in the American Digest,” Roland Smead says. “It may seem like a small detail, but Taiwan is important in US policy toward China. Biden called on Xi to respect peace and stability in Taiwan. But this is not at all contained in the Chinese summary of the consultations.”
Chinese state media Global Times reported something else. President Xi would have warned Biden against increasing support for Taiwan independence. The Chinese president is said to have called it “playing with fire”. “He who plays with fire will burn himself,” Xi said.
Even after a conversation that lasted more than 3 hours, there is still a great deal of disagreement over the course of Taiwan. The consultations did not result in major agreements or new problems. However, according to Roland Smead, the video consultation is private and relevant.
“Simply because Xi and Biden have consulted each other for so long and substantially. Tensions between the United States and China have increased recently. Something, for example, in the South China Sea, can lead to mutual conflict in a slip. With this conversation, it seems that the cold It has been off the air for a while.”
President Biden said fierce competition should be possible without leading to military conflict. The Chinese president went one step further. Xi Jinping has suggested that climate is an issue where China and the United States can work well together.
According to Roland Smead, the big winners at the meeting are Chinese and American companies that trade with each other. “They see that there is a cordial atmosphere between Biden and Xi and that they have room for dialogue. That doesn’t give full guarantees, but the relative calm that seems to exist now is good for commerce.”
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