Presidents Biden and Xi agree to ‘pick up the phone’ for urgent concerns

16 November 2023, 03:44

APEC Biden XI. Picture: PA

Deep differences remain between US and China on economic competition and global security threats.

US President Joe Biden and China’s Xi Jinping emerged from their first face-to-face meeting in a year vowing to stabilise their fraught relationship.

They showcased modest agreements to combat illegal fentanyl and re-establish military communications, but there were still deep differences on economic competition and global security threats.

Mr Biden said the most assuring takeaway from Wednesday’s meeting was that if either man had a concern, “we should pick up the phone and call one another and we’ll take the call. That’s important progress.”

The two leaders spent four hours together at a northern California estate – in meetings, a working lunch and a garden stroll – intent on showing the world that while they are global economic competitors, they are not locked in a winner-take-all faceoff.

“Planet Earth is big enough for the two countries to succeed,” Mr Xi told Mr Biden.

President Joe Biden listens during a meeting Mr Xi (Doug Mills/The New York Times via AP, Pool)

The US president told Mr Xi: “I think it’s paramount that you and I understand each other clearly, leader to leader, with no misconceptions or miscommunications. We have to ensure competition does not veer into conflict.”

Their meeting, on the sidelines of the annual Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) conference, has far-reaching implications for a world grappling with economic cross currents, conflicts in the Middle East and Europe, tensions in Taiwan and more.

They reached expected agreements to curb illicit fentanyl production and to reopen military ties, Mr Biden said.

Many of the chemicals used to make synthetic fentanyl come from China to cartels that traffic the powerful narcotic into the US, which is facing an overdose crisis.

Mr Biden said military leaders will resume talks, an increasingly important move particularly as unsafe or unprofessional incidents between the two nations’ ships and aircraft have spiked.

“I know the man I know his modus operandi,” said Mr Biden. “We have disagreements but he’s been straight.”

But he still said Mr Xi was a dictator… “in a sense.”

China’s President President Xi Jinping speaks during a meeting with Mr Biden (Doug Mills/The New York Times via AP, Pool)

The two leaders had a significant back and forth over Taiwan with Mr Biden chiding China over its massive military build-up around Taiwan and Mr Xi saying he had no plans to invade the island, according to a US official.

Mr Biden, the official said, declared the US was committed to continuing to help Taiwan defend itself and maintain deterrence against a potential Chinese attack, calling on China to avoid meddling in the island’s elections next year.

The official described the Taiwan portion of the talks as “clear-headed” and “not heated”.

Mr Biden also called on Mr Xi to use his influence with Iran to make clear that Tehran, and its proxies, should not take steps that would lead to an expansion of the Israel-Hamas war.

Foreign minister Wang Yi has assured the US the Chinese have communicated concerns to Iran, but the official said the US has not been able to ascertain how seriously the Iranians are taking concerns raised by Beijing.

According to a statement released by China Central Television, the state broadcaster, Mr Xi was most focused on Taiwan and the US sanctions and restrictions against Chinese products and businesses.

Mr Xi urged the US to support China’s peaceful unification with the self-governed island, calling Taiwan “the most important and most sensitive issue” in the bilateral relations.

He also raised Beijing’s concerns over export controls, investment screenings and sanctions imposed by the US, which he said “have severely harmed China’s legitimate interests”.

By Press Association

Latest World News

See more Latest World News

King Charles and Queen Camilla will not visit New Zealand during whistle-stop tour of Australia and Samoa

King Charles and Queen Camilla will not visit New Zealand during whistle-stop tour of Australia and Samoa

President Joe Biden addresses the nation from the Oval Office of the White House in Washington

'We're not enemies': Biden calls for unity after Trump assassination attempt as he delivers rare speech from Oval Office

Corey Comperatore was killed during the Trump rally attack.

Pictured: Man killed in shooting at Trump rally as he 'tried to shield family from bullets'

Donald Trump has been shot through the ear at a rally in Pennsylvania - as one bystander was killed and two others were critically injured.

Pictured: Shocking scenes as gunman shoots Donald Trump during rally leaving one bystander dead

At least 71 Palestinians have been killed in an Israeli air strike

‘Dozens killed in air strike on Gaza humanitarian zone’ as Israel says it was targeting Hamas leaders

Tony Blair was among a star-studded guest list at the wedding of the son of India's richest man

Tony Blair, Boris Johnson and wrestling star John Cena among guests at lavish wedding of Asia's richest man

Tori Towey has spoken out after being freed

Air stewardess breaks silence after being freed from arrest for 'attempted suicide' in Dubai following home attack

Simon Harris confirmed that Tori Towey has been released

Air stewardess freed after being 'detained for attempted suicide' in Dubai following 'attack at home'

Carla Bruni-Sarkozy faces witness tampering charges in her husband's illegal campaign finance case

Carla Bruni faces witness tampering charge over ex-French president husband Nicolas Sarkozy's corruption case

Tori Towey is stuck in Dubai

Air stewardess 'trapped in Dubai and charged with attempted suicide' after being 'attacked at home'

Joe Biden confirmed NATO will send “dozens” of air defence systems to Ukraine

Biden declares Ukraine 'can and will' stop Putin as he confirms NATO will send 'dozens' of air defence systems to Kyiv

Sir Keir Starmer will kick back a key decision on when Britain will spend more cash on defence

Keir Starmer to kick back defence spending decision at NATO summit in first foreign visit as Prime Minister

Sir Keir Starmer and Lady Starmer head for Washington for Nato summit

Starmer heads to Washington for historic Nato summit after making first Parliamentary speech as Prime Minister

Tourists in Spain have started reserving the best beach spots by hanging their towels on parasols

'New dimension' in battle for sunbeds in Majorca resorts as tourists drape towels over beach umbrellas for best shoreline spots

Yulia Navalnaya, widow of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny

Moscow court orders arrest of Alexei Navalny's widow Yulia Navalnaya months after his death

The plane mechanic was killed after getting sucked into a jet engine

Plane mechanic killed after being sucked into Boeing jet engine as he went to retrieve tool