Before President Joe Biden and President Xi Jinping of the People’s Republic of China began their virtual meeting on November 15, the two leaders expressed their hopes that the discussion would be “candid,” “forthright,” and “comprehensive.”
Their hopes appear to have been fulfilled.
In a statement, the White House said, “The two leaders discussed the complex nature of relations between our two countries and the importance of managing competition responsibly. …President Biden welcomed the opportunity to speak candidly and straightforwardly to President Xi about our intentions and priorities across a range of issues.”
Those issues included U.S. concern about the PRC’s practices in Xinjiang, Tibet, and Hong Kong, as well as human rights more broadly; the need for ensuring that the “rules for the road” for the 21st century advance an international system that is free, open and fair; the importance of freedom of navigation and safe overflight to the prosperity of the Indo-Pacific region; the need to protect American workers and industries from unfair trade and economic practices.
On Taiwan, the White House said, “President Biden underscored that the United States remains committed to the ‘one China’ policy, guided by the Taiwan Relations Act, the three Joint Communiques, and the Six Assurances, and that the United States strongly opposes unilateral efforts to change the status quo or undermine peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait.”
Also discussed was the importance of managing strategic risks by developing common-sense guardrails to ensure that competition between the United States and the PRC does not veer into conflict and keeping the lines of communication open.
Additionally, President Biden spoke with President Xi about working together, as the leaders of the world’s two largest economies, in areas where our interests align, such as global health security, counternarcotics, and climate change.
U.S. National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan, who attended the meeting, described it as a meeting between two leaders who “both recognize the weight of responsibility in stewarding the U.S.-China relationship…They are looking to shoulder that weight responsibly, to take care of the words that they use, in the formulas they adopt, in the issues they put forward.” However, Mr. Sullivan noted, President Biden made clear that “together with our allies and partners and those who share our democratic values…we are going to work for a vision. Not against China, but for an affirmative vision of an international system that remains free, open and fair.”