Lasting far past Biden's bedtime Monday evening, his much anticipated virtual summit with Chinese leader Xi Jinping lasted more than three-and-a-half hours and was widely described as mutually "respectful" as both vowed to "find the right way to get along". Though both sides agreed they weren't looking for specific outcomes to the meeting, each subsequently appeared to be in agreement that the conversation was candid and "effective in improving mutual understanding" - as the Chinese side put in. Both agreed on the need for "guardrails" to avoid open conflict, specifically described as "common-sense guardrails to ensure that competition does not veer into conflict and to keep lines of communication open," according to President Biden's remarks.
The White House said the leaders "discussed the complex nature of relations between our two countries and the importance of managing competition responsibly" - which had been an oft-previewed emphasis of the US side leading in to the summit. It added that they "discussed ways for the two sides to continue discussions on a number of areas, with President Biden underscoring the importance of substantive and concrete conversations." In particular Taiwan's status topped the agenda, and respect for human rights, China’s "unfair trade and economic practices" - and additionally one deliverable was actually reached - namely for Beijing to adopt an upgraded fast track for American executives to enter China, an outcome confirmed in state media.
On Taiwan, Biden reiterated his administration remains committed to the status quo: He "underscored that the United States remains committed to the 'one China' policy, guided by the Taiwan Relations Act, the three Joint Communiques, and the Six Assurances, and that the United States strongly opposes unilateral efforts to change the status quo or undermine peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait," the White House statement said - the latter part being a warning against China's ramped-up threats and repeat displays of force toward the island.
This after Xi reportedly emphasized Beijing's 'red line' on the issue of US support to the island it sees as under China's sovereignty: "If Taiwan independence separatist forces provoke or even break through the red line, we will have no alternative but to take drastic measures," Xi had told the US President.
But his toughest words came in saying those seeking Taiwan independence "would inevitably burn themselves":
"We are patient and we are willing to use our utmost sincerity and make the utmost effort to strive for the prospect of peaceful reunification," Xinhua cited Xi as saying. "However, if ‘Taiwan independence separatist forces provoke and coerce, or even break through the red line, we will have to take drastic measures."
Leading up to the Taiwan issue being raised by Xi along with warnings to stop interfering, Xi issued these provocative lines saying the United States must return to a "rational" policy toward China:
"In the next 50 years, the most important thing in international relations is that China and the United States must find the right way to get along," Xi was quoted as saying. "Anything done by a politician, whether merits or demerits, will be recorded by history."
"It is hoped that Mr President will give full play to his political leadership and push US policy towards China to return to a rational and pragmatic track."
And yet at the same time, on Tuesday official Xinhua is reporting "The Chinese Communist Party is confident that full national reunification with Taiwan will be achieved eventually," according to a new resolution on history by the Macau Communist Party. Further as regards Hong Kong, the "Resolution vows to maintain prosperity in Hong Kong and Macau Communist Party vows to deepen reform and opening up..." - meaning the party only intends to expand its reach and influence in HK.
According to Chinese state media, Xi emphasized that the world is big enough to accommodate the two superpowers and globe's largest economies and their development without each side engaging in picking "winners and losers".
"China and the US should respect each other, coexist in peace and pursue win-win cooperation," Xi said at the summit's opening press briefing, at one point calling Biden an "old friend". The Chinese leader added, "I stand ready to work with you, Mr President, to build consensus, take active steps and move China-US relations forward in a positive direction."
Xi had echoed and affirmed Biden's call to enact "guardrails" and "safeguards" in order to avoid conflict arising out of a hostile "zero-sum" mentality. Here's how Chinese state media related this section of Xi's words, according to a rush translation:
The United States proposes that China and the United States can "coexist", and two words can be added, that is, peaceful coexistence. The third is win-win cooperation. The interests of China and the United States are deeply blended, and cooperation will benefit both, and struggle will hurt both. The earth is large enough to accommodate China and the United States for their own and common development. We must insist on mutual benefit, do not play zero-sum games, and do not engage you to lose and I win.
White House officials later said Taiwan became the subject of "extended discussion" - and no doubt the issue of greatest contention afgter China initiated more military drills near the Taiwan Strait in recent days...
The topic of "extended discussion", according to US officials, was Taiwan. https://t.co/SusgdzESxI— TheStarKenya (@TheStarKenya) November 16, 2021
The cordial enough meeting saw the yuan climb to a 5-month high Tuesday amid signs of cooling tensions and hoped-for better relations between the world's two largest economies. "With Chinese exports still going strong and foreign inflows into the bond market staying robust given their index inclusion, there is scope for the yuan to gain further," Bloomberg cited Khoon Goh, head of Asia research at ANZ, as saying.
Further, Hong Kong stocks rose for a sixth day on the heels of the optimistic summit: The Hang Seng Index advanced 1.3 per cent to 25,713.78 at the close of Tuesday trading, SCMP noted.