Biden, Xi seek to avoid conflict in 3-hour meeting

i24NEWS - AFP/Reuters

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US President Joe Biden and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping meet on the sidelines of the G20 summit in the Indonesian resort island of Bali on November 14, 2022.
SAUL LOEB / AFPUS President Joe Biden and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping meet on the sidelines of the G20 summit in the Indonesian resort island of Bali on November 14, 2022.

'We share responsibility to show that China and the United States can manage our differences'

U.S. President Joe Biden and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping ended a landmark summit in Bali, Indonesia on Monday, after three hours of talks aimed at stopping their simmering rivalry from spilling over into conflict.

Xi and Biden shook hands in front of the American and Chinese flags before starting the long-awaited meeting on the resort island ahead of a Group of 20 summit, following months of tension over Taiwan and other issues.

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Biden, sitting across from Xi at facing tables, said Beijing and Washington "share responsibility" to show the world that they can "manage our differences, prevent competition from becoming conflict."

The U.S. leader brought up a number of difficult topics, including raising U.S. objections to China's "coercive and increasingly aggressive actions toward Taiwan," Beijing's "non-market economic practices," and practices in "Xinjiang, Tibet, and Hong Kong, and human rights more broadly," according to a White House readout.

Xi, China's most powerful leader in decades who is fresh from securing a norm-breaking third term, told Biden that the world has "come to a crossroads."

"The world expects that China and the United States will properly handle the relationship," Xi told him.

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Despite the upbeat public statements, both nations are increasingly suspicious of each other, with the U.S. fearing that China has stepped up a timeline for seizing Taiwan.

Ahead of the meeting, U.S. American officials said Biden hoped to set up "guardrails" in the relationship with China and to assess how to avoid "red lines" that could push the world's two largest economies into conflict.

The most sensitive issue is Taiwan, the self-governing democracy claimed by China.

Washington has stepped up support for Taiwan, while China has ramped up its threats to seize control of the island. After U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited Taipei in August, China reacted by staging unprecedented military drills.

On the eve of his talks with Xi, Biden met with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol on the sidelines of a southeast Asian summit in Cambodia, with the three leaders jointly calling for "peace and stability" on the Taiwan Strait.

Biden is also expected to push China to rein in ally North Korea after a record-breaking spate of missile tests that have raised fears of Pyongyang soon carrying out its seventh nuclear test.

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