Though Xi Jinping called Joe Biden an old friend, he warned the United States about supporting Taiwan.
New Delhi: The twain shall meet, as they say. US President Joe Biden has his strategic compulsions, and thus to cut short on 'military engagement' with Beijing, he held the first virtual meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping for three and a half hours on Tuesday (November 16). But the long meeting perhaps had little to give in substance.
One version and a possible US spin are now that the ice has been broken, the downward decline in the US-China relationship would stop. But it is no one's case that one summit would bring the two nations back to the good old days.
Officially, the White House has described the talks as "straightforward and open". However, critics would say there was no commitment to work together or end the bitterness in competition and rivalry. Chinese President Xi even called Biden "an old friend" but gave a categorical 'warning' about playing with fire. The two leaders had spoken twice over the telephone earlier this year, but there had been no formal summit before Tuesday's meeting. There were tough talks and the use of select phrases.
"It is playing with fire, and if you play with fire, you will get burned," the Chinese readout quoted President Xi as having stated over US support to Taiwan. "Xi warns US over support for Taiwan secessionism," screamed a 'Global Times' headline.
For his part, President Biden was "clear about the need to protect American workers and industries from the China unfair trade and economic practices."
Biden also spoke about violations of human rights by China. "President Biden raised concerns about the PRC's practices in Xinjiang, Tibet, and Hong Kong, as well as human rights more broadly," the White House said in a statement. China said it did not like 'interference' in other countries' internal affairs.
Xi also complained about how the US rules and machinations were on to suppress Chinese companies.
A report by AP news agency said: "Both Biden and Xi seemed determined to lower the temperature in what for both sides is their most significant — and frequently turbulent — relationship on the global stage."
Biden told Xi Jinping at the start of the meeting: "As I've said before, it seems to me our responsibility as leaders of China and the United States is to ensure that the competition between our countries does not veer into conflict, whether intended or unintended."
"The positive tone sets an example for officials in both countries to try to identify common ground rather than find fault with each other, whether on trade, climate change, or geopolitical issues such as Afghanistan and North Korea," said Wang Huiyao, president of the Center for China and Globalization, in Beijing, according to an AP report.
"I see this dialogue as a stabilizer of the bilateral relation," he said.
In the ultimate analysis, the question remains, why Biden sought the meeting. Mind you, and the US officials said it was not a Summit, though both Presidents had the supposed historic meet. Right from the beginning, everyone knew nothing concrete could come.