Biden, Xi talk to avoid ‘competition veering into conflict’

Washington/Beijing, Sep 9 (EFE).- United States president Joe Biden and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping on Thursday in a phone call recognized their responsibility to ensure that “competition” between the countries “does not veer into conflict,” the White House said.

The conversation was only the second that the leaders have had together since Biden came to power in January, after the lengthy phone call they shared in February, and coinciding with strong bilateral tensions.

“The two leaders had a broad, strategic discussion in which they discussed areas where our interests converge, and areas where our interests, values, and perspectives diverge,” the White House said in a statement.

Both “agreed to engage on both sets of issues openly and straightforwardly,” added the statement, issued late on Thursday in Washington, and Friday morning in Beijing.

The call was part of the “United States’ ongoing effort to responsibly manage the competition,” while the leaders “discussed the responsibility of both nations to ensure competition does not veer into conflict,” it said.

China’s foreign ministry released a statement Friday morning saying that Xi “pointed out that the China policy adopted by the United States for some time has caused serious difficulties in Sino-US relations. This is not in the fundamental interests of the two peoples and the common interests of all countries in the world.”

“Whether China and the United States can handle their relations well is at stake for the future and destiny of the world,” it added.

Bejing said that “on the basis of respecting each other’s core concerns and properly managing differences,” the two countries “can continue to engage in dialogue to advance coordination and cooperation on climate change, epidemic prevention and control, economic recovery, and major international and regional issues, while exploring more cooperation.”

It finished by saying that the Biden and Xi agreed to maintain regular contact “and will instruct the working levels of both parties to step up their work and conduct extensive dialogues.”

Bilateral tension has increased since the coming to power of Biden, who has made competition with Beijing the central pillar of his foreign and trade policy.

In recent months, the relationship has suffered from accusations by the US – backed by the European Union and other countries – that China was behind the global cyberattack on Microsoft in March, which Beijing has flatly denied.

In addition, friction has grown in the wake of US warnings to US companies not to negotiate with entities operating in Hong Kong or in China’s northwest Xianjiang region, where Washington accuses Beijing of committing serious rights abuses against Muslim Uighurs and other ethnic minorities.

Washington has also denounced China’s territorial ambitions in the Spratly and Paracel islands, which are disputed with five Southeast Asian countries.

During a July meeting between representatives of the two countries in China, Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Xie Feng accused Washington of turning Beijing into an “imagined enemy” and warned that the relationship was at a “stalemate and faces serious difficulties.”

Biden and Xi have not yet met in person, although the White House has not ruled out that they may do so during the G20 leaders’ summit at the end of October in Rome. EFE


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