Biden, Xi argue over Chinese 'red line' Taiwan, negotiate Ukraine
The leaders of the two superpowers meet for the first time as presidents, amid growing disagreements over Taiwan, Ukraine, technology, and divergent visions of the world order.
US President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping argued over Taiwan on Monday, but they also found areas of agreement during their first in-person meeting in three years.
Both Xi and Biden sought to lower the heat during their two-hour meeting on the resort island of Bali, saying they wanted to avoid high tensions escalating into conflict.
In a sign of progress, the White House announced that Secretary of State Antony Blinken will visit China, making him the most senior US visitor since 2018.
Biden and Xi shook hands and smiled in front of their respective flags at a hotel in Bali, where the Group of 20 begins its summit on Tuesday.
The US President stressed that Beijing and Washington "share responsibility" to show the world that they can "manage our differences, prevent competition from becoming conflict."
Read next: Biden lands in Bali for G20 Summit, meeting with Xi
Xi, who recently won a third term, told Biden that the world has "arrived at a crossroads." "The world expects that China and the United States will properly handle the relationship," Xi told him.
The Chinese President also told his US counterpart that he is willing to engage in an open and detailed discussion of issues "of strategic importance to China-US relations." He also expressed his desire for bilateral relations between their countries to return to "the path of healthy development."
Biden spoke with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol on the sidelines of a Southeast Asian summit in Cambodia on the night of his meeting with Xi, "appealing for peace and stability" across the Taiwan Strait.
Taiwan, a red line
Despite Biden’s upbeat public statements, the US has been fueling the already-high level of tension in the Taiwan Strait, stepping up lethal weaponry for Taiwan.
The situation around Taiwan escalated following Pelosi's recent visit to Taipei. China considers Taiwan part of its territory and opposes any direct official foreign contact with the island.
Pelosi's visit led China to announce ending cooperation with the United States on a number of issues, such as climate change, anti-drug efforts, and military talks.
According to a Chinese Foreign Ministry statement, Xi told Biden that Taiwan is the "first red line that must not be crossed in China-US relations."
Read next: 36 Chinese aircrafts detected in Taiwan environ amid tensions
The White House stated that Biden told Xi that he was opposed to any changes in Taiwan after the US leader repeatedly stated that Washington was prepared to defend the island militarily. Biden raised US "objections" to what he called China's "coercive and increasingly aggressive actions toward Taiwan, which undermine peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait and in the broader region, and jeopardize global prosperity," the White House said.
Despite the conflict in Taiwan, the White House indicated that it had reached some agreement with China on Russia's military operation in Ukraine, which is a top priority for Biden, who hopes to deny Moscow a key source of international support.
Xi and Biden "reiterated their agreement that a nuclear war should never be fought and can never be won and underscored their opposition to the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons in Ukraine," the White House statement said.
During the meeting, Biden said China’s economic practices “harm American workers and families, and workers and families around the world,” the White House said.
The meeting came after the Biden administration blocked exports of advanced computer chips to China, which is a national defense move that bolsters US competition against Beijing.
Read next: US, China discuss economic challenges, supply chains
Xi’s government said he condemned such moves, saying, “Starting a trade war or a technology war, building walls and barriers, and pushing for decoupling and severing supply chains run counter to the principles of market economy and undermine international trade rules.”
Prior to the meeting, Mao Ning, a spokesperson for the Chinese Foreign Ministry, stated that China was committed to peaceful coexistence but would vigorously defend its sovereignty, security, and development interests.
“It is important that the US work together with China to properly manage differences, advance mutually beneficial cooperation, avoid misunderstanding and miscalculation, and bring China-US relations back to the right track of sound and steady development,” she said at a daily briefing in Beijing.
Read next: US, China discuss relations, war in Ukraine: State Dept