President Xi Jinping meets with US counterpart Joe Biden via video link in Beijing on Nov 16, 2021. (PHOTO / XINHUA)
President Xi Jinping set out priorities on Tuesday for relations between China and the United States for the new era, urging both sides to lead the international community in responding to key challenges and manage differences and sensitive issues in a constructive manner.
In his first virtual meeting with US President Joe Biden, Xi called upon the two nations to follow the principles of mutual respect, peaceful coexistence and win-win cooperation, highlighting the need to treat each other as equals, keep differences under control and seek common ground while putting aside their differences.
The meeting, which followed two phone calls between the two leaders in February and September, went on for three-and-a-half hours. The presidents had in-depth exchanges on issues of strategic, overarching and fundamental importance that shape the development of bilateral relations and on important issues of mutual interest.
The conversation opened on a friendly note from both leaders. Xi, who spoke with Biden from the East Hall of the Great Hall of the People, referred to the US president as "my old friend".
Xi said he is willing to work with his US counterpart to build consensus and take active steps to move the relationship forward in a positive direction.
"Doing so will advance the interests of the two peoples and meet the expectations of the international community," he said.
A sound and steady China-US relationship is required for advancing the two countries' respective development and for safeguarding a peaceful and stable international environment, including finding effective responses to global challenges such as climate change and the COVID-19 pandemic, Xi said.
He underlined the restoration and growth of China-US relations as the most important event in international relations, benefiting the two countries and the world.
The most important event in international relations in the coming 50 years, he said, will be for China and the US to find the right way to get along.
History is a fair judge, and what a statesman does, be it right or wrong, an accomplishment or a failure, will all be recorded by history, he said, adding that he hopes Biden will demonstrate political leadership and steer the US policy on China back on to a reasonable and pragmatic track.
Xi expounded on the three principles the two sides should uphold for the new era. The two countries need to respect each other's social systems and development paths, respect each other's core interests and major concerns, and respect each other's right to development, he said.
He underscored that no conflict and no confrontation is a line that both sides should hold and that the two nations stand to gain from cooperation and lose from confrontation as their interests are deeply intertwined.
The world is big enough for the two countries to develop individually and collectively, he said, adding that the right thing to do is to choose mutual benefit over a zero-sum game.
Xi said the two nations must both shoulder the responsibility of major countries and bilateral cooperation may not solve all problems, but few problems can be solved without China-US cooperation.
He listed the economy, energy, military, law enforcement, education, cyber affairs and environmental protection as areas where the two sides share broad common interests.
The president compared China and the US to two giant ships sailing in the ocean, saying that it is important for them to keep a steady hand on the tiller so that the two vessels will break waves and forge ahead together, without losing direction or speed, still less colliding with each other.
Xi explained China's development path and strategic intentions, underscoring that the Chinese people's aspiration for a better life is the biggest internal driver for China's development and an inevitable trend of history.
As China's leader, the president said, serving the 1.4 billion Chinese people and working with them for a better life is a great challenge and a great responsibility. "I will put aside my own well-being and live up to people's expectations," he said, repeating a pledge he made during a visit to Italy in 2019.
He stressed that aggression and hegemony are not in the blood of the Chinese nation and that the nation has no intention of selling its development path around the world.
He reiterated China's commitment to opening-up, a fundamental State policy and a hallmark of China. The nation will not change its determination to open up at a higher level, nor will it change its determination to share growth opportunities with the rest of the world, he said.
He highlighted China's commitment to peace, development, equity, justice and democracy－the common values of humanity. Drawing ideological lines or dividing the world into different camps or rival groups will only make the world suffer, and the bitter lessons of the Cold War are still fresh in the memory, Xi said, adding that Beijing hopes Washington will live up to its pledge not to seek a "new Cold War" with concrete actions.
The Taiwan question
Xi urged the US side not to test China's resolve on the Taiwan question, as he ascribed the new wave of tensions across the Taiwan Straits to the repeated attempts by the Taiwan authorities to look for US support for their "independence" agenda as well as the intention of some in the US to use the question to contain China.
Such moves are extremely dangerous, just like playing with fire, and whoever plays with fire will get burned, he warned.
Xi told Biden that Beijing has patience and will strive for the prospect of peaceful reunification with utmost sincerity and efforts.
However, he said, the nation will be forced to take resolute measures should the separatist forces for "Taiwan independence" take provocative actions or even cross the red line.
Xi underscored that civilizations are rich and diverse, and so is democracy. Whether a country is democratic or not should be left to its own people to decide, he said. He said that China is ready to have dialogue on human rights on the basis of mutual respect, but it opposes using human rights as a pretext to meddle in other countries' internal affairs.
Sino-US trade relations are in essence mutually beneficial and bilateral economic and trade issues between the two countries should not be politicized, he said.
Biden underlined the shared responsibility of both leaders in ensuring that "that the competition between our countries does not veer into conflict, whether intended or unintended".
"It seems to me we need to establish some common-sense guardrails, to be clear and honest where we disagree, and work together where our interests intersect, especially on vital global issues like climate change," he said.
Biden reiterated that the US does not seek to change China's system, the revitalization of its alliances is not anti-China, and the US has no intention of having a conflict with China.
He reaffirmed the US government's long-standing one-China policy, stating that the US does not support "Taiwan independence", and expressed the hope for peace and stability to be maintained in the Taiwan Straits.