U.S. President Joe Biden “welcomed the opportunity to speak candidly and straightforwardly” to his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, about issues including human rights, economic competition and China’s increased interest in Taiwan, the White House said early Tuesday. It was the first, virtual, one-on-one meeting between the two leaders since Biden took office.
“President Biden underscored that the United States will continue to stand up for its interests and values and, together with our allies and partners, ensure the rules of the road for the 21st century advance an international system that is free, open, and fair,” the White House said in a statement issued just after midnight Tuesday, following the end of their more than three-hour virtual meeting. “He emphasized the priority he places on far-reaching investments at home while we align with allies and partners abroad to take on the challenges of our time.”
Biden launched the marathon meeting with a friendly greeting before shifting quickly into a sober reflection on the challenges that divide the two nations.
“It seems to me that our responsibility as leaders of China and the United States is to ensure that the competition between our countries does not veer into conflict,” Biden said Monday as the two leaders spoke in a video call between Washington and Beijing. “Whether intended or unintended — just simple, straightforward competition.”
Xi also acknowledged the many issues between the two great powers and, as expected, defended his nation’s sovereignty against what Beijing has long perceived as American and international judgment and pressure.
“We should each run our domestic affairs well and, at the same time, shoulder our share of international responsibilities and work together to advance the noble cause of world peace and development,” Xi said. “This is a shared desire of the people of our two countries and around the world.”