Biden and Xi convene 1st virtual face-to-face summit

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Biden and Xi Jinping assigned to discuss climate change and the pandemic of the coronavirus.

IN SUMMARY

  • Biden and Xi convene 1st virtual face-to-face summit. The two discussed climate change and the pandemic of the coronavirus.
  • The much-awaited summit comes as tensions between the world’s two largest economies escalate on issues such as Taiwan, trade, and human rights.
  • The two leaders will discuss a range of issues including cybersecurity, trade and nuclear non-proliferation.
  • Vinesh Motwani argues that while significant breakthroughs are improbable, there would be hope that the tone of the relationship would be set.

US President Joe Biden and Chinese Leader Xi Jinping officially convened their first virtual face-to-face summit.

The much-awaited summit comes as tensions between the world’s two largest economies continue to escalate on issues such as Taiwan, trade, and human rights.

Mr. Biden stated that both countries share responsibility towards averting “open conflict” in their relationship.

This is the most substantive discussion the two presidents have had since Mr. Biden’s January inauguration.

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What Biden & Chinese Xi Jinping seek from the virtual summit

What emerged from the summit is that Mr. Xi and Mr. Biden exchanged warm pleasantries, with Mr. Xi expressing his joy at seeing his “old friend.”

According to a Reuters account, Mr. Biden acknowledged that perhaps he should proceed more formally, even though Xi and Biden have never been that formal with one another.

Biden noted that they had always communicated quite honestly and truthfully with one another and that the two never walk away puzzled what the other man is thinking.

Mr. Xi stated that the two countries’ “communication” needs to improve and that they have to confront “shared challenges.”

He also stated that strong ties between China and the US are imperative to tackle global concerns such as climate change and Covid-19, according to Chinese state media.

Last week, during talks in Glasgow, Scotland, the rival powers stunned many by issuing a joint declaration on climate change.

Mr. Xi conveyed that humanity is a global village, and we are all confronted with myriad challenges. Xi stressed that  China and the United States must improve their communication and collaboration.

“Xi stated that he was prepared to collaborate with President Biden, to… advance China-US ties positively.

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What is the root cause of the China-Taiwan divide?

Mr. Biden stated that the two sides need to set some “common sense guardrails” to prevent the rivalry between the two countries from escalating into conflict.

Biden affirmed that both President Xi and himself have discussed that all countries must adhere to the same set of standards, which is why the US will always defend its interests and values, as well as those of its allies and partners.

Mr. Biden’s remarks appear to be a reference to Taiwan, which has become a subject of dispute between the two countries in recent years.

Beijing regards Taiwan as a secessionist province, while democratic Taiwan regards itself as a sovereign state.

The US has escalated its public declarations of its commitment to defending the island.

Mr. Biden stated last month that the US would defend Taiwan if China invaded, reversing a long-standing US foreign policy stance of “strategic ambiguity” in which Washington has been purposely unclear about what it would do.

Other issues slated for tackling include cybersecurity, trade, and nuclear non-proliferation.

What’s the way forward?

Listening to Vinesh Motwani, Managing Director of research firm Silk Road Research, there has been quite a notable easing of the rhetoric between both parties in the run-up to the summit.

Mr. Motwani argues that while significant breakthroughs are improbable, there would be a hope that the tone of the relationship would be set.

“According to Mr. Motwani, China has been extremely explicit in its assertion that it will engage only based on mutual respect. He supposes that a significant component of the summit will be devoted to establishing trust.

This is the third meeting between the two leaders since Mr. Biden’s January inauguration. The conference lasted several hours, concluding at 12:30 p.m. local time in Beijing.

Mr. Xi has not left the country in nearly two years, since the Covid-19 pandemic erupted.

The China-US relations are vital to both countries and the rest of the globe, with Beijing repeatedly urging the new government in Washington to mend fences that had frayed under Mr. Biden’s predecessor, Donald Trump.

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