US: Biden, Xi agree to move forward with arms control dialogue

Washington, Nov 16 (EFE).- President Joe Biden and his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, agreed during their virtual summit to move forward with a bilateral dialogue on arms control, White House National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said Tuesday.

The two leaders “look to begin to carry forward discussion on strategic stability,” said Sullivan, using a term common in diplomatic circles to describe arms control.

“You will see at multiple levels an intensification of the engagement to ensure that there are guardrails around this competition so that it doesn’t veer off into conflict,” Sullivan said.

Biden’s adviser was responding at a webinar press conference at the Brooking Institution to a reporter’s question about China’s potential for significantly expanding its nuclear arsenal and about the recent launch by Beijing of a hypersonic missile with the capacity to circle the Earth.

Sullivan, who was present for the virtual meeting between the two leaders on Monday – Tuesday in Beijing – said that Biden expressed to Xi the “need” to maintain conversations about these types of arms advances, which he described as matters that have a profound importance for US national security.

Biden said that those conversations should be guided by the leaders and undertaken by top-level teams that have the power to make decisions and are experts in “security, technology and diplomacy,” Sullivan said.

“It is now incumbent on us to think about the most productive way to carry it forward,” he added.

Sullivan acknowledged that this potential dialogue will probably not be as “mature” as the one undertaken for years between the US and Russia, the world’s other big nuclear power, because the talks with Moscow have a “much deeper history.”

The dialogue with China “is not the same as what we have in the Russian context with the formal strategic stability dialogue. That is far more mature, has a much deeper history to it. There’s less maturity to that in the US-China relationship, but the two leaders did discuss these issues,” Sullivan said.

The US has become deeply involved in an arms race with China and Russia in the area of hypersonic weaponry, with – because of their extreme velocity – such missiles being more difficult to detect with current missile defense systems.

In late October, the Pentagon confirmed that it is seeking to develop hypersonic technology to counteract China’s advances in this area, adding that at the same time it wants to improve its “defensive capabilities.”

Washington has admitted its unease regarding China’s military progress, which – the Pentagon says – goes hand in hand with a foreign and defense policy that “intimidates” and coerces its neighboring nations.

The virtual meeting between Biden and Xi lasted for more than three hours and was “respectful and direct,” according to the White House, but neither of the pair twisted the other’s arm regarding the red lines for their respective countries, particularly concerning Taiwan, a heavily populated island over which Beijing claims sovereignty but which has acted in a sovereign manner since World War II and which the US has committed itself to defend should China attack it.

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