‘We were very blunt with one another’: Joe Biden’s candid exchange with Xi Jinping


US President Joe Biden has met his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping and said they have a “responsibility” to show the two countries can “manage our differences”.

Mr Xi went into the three-and-a-half-hour discussion prepared for a “candid and in-depth exchange of views” with Mr Biden, saying he hoped they would find areas of cooperation.

And afterwards, Mr Biden told reporters they had indeed been “very blunt” with each other. But he said the Chinese leader had been “straight forward and willing to compromise” on certain issues.

“We were very blunt with one another about places we disagreed or where we were uncertain of each other’s position, and we agreed we would set up mechanisms where key people in each of our administrations would meet to discuss how we could resolve them,” said the US president.

Mr Biden objected to China’s “coercive and increasingly aggressive actions” toward Taiwan and raised human rights concerns about Beijing’s conduct in Xinjiang, Tibet, and Hong Kong during the meeting, the White House added.

Mr Xi had acknowledged the current state of China-US relations was not in the interests of both countries, and they needed to “steer the rudder”, according to state broadcaster CCTV.

In the first in-person talks between both leaders since Mr Biden took office nearly two years ago, Mr Xi also said they should think about and clarify the direction of development of their own countries, as well as consider the way to get along with others.

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‘Very little misunderstanding’

Mr Biden said: “As the leaders of our two nations, we share responsibility, in my view, to show that China and the United States can manage our differences, prevent competition from becoming anything ever near conflict, and to find ways to work together on urgent global issues that require our mutual cooperation.”

While attending a gathering of southeast Asian nations at the weekend, Mr Biden said of US relations with China: “We have very little misunderstanding.”

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He told reporters in Phnom Penh, Cambodia on Sunday: “We just got to figure out where the red lines are and… what are the most important things to each of us going into the next two years.”

Referring to Mr Xi remaining in power for at least another five years – breaking with a decades-long precedent that limits the terms of Chinese leaders – Mr Biden added: “His circumstance has changed, to state the obvious, at home.”

The president said of his own situation that he was “coming in stronger” after successful midterm elections that saw the Democrats retain control of the Senate.

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