President Biden and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping each underscored the need for communications between the two nuclear superpowers at their meeting on Wednesday, which was the first time they’ve spoken in over a year.
Mr. Biden and Mr. Xi emphasized that the two nations need to keep lines of dialogue open to avoid tipping into conflict.
“We have to ensure that competition does not veer into conflict and we also have to manage it responsibly, competition,” Mr. Biden said, adding that he’s found previous talks with Mr. Xi to be “candid, straightforward and useful.”
“I value our conversation because I think it’s paramount that you and I understand each other clearly, leader to leader, with no misconceptions or miscommunication,” Mr. Biden said.
Mr. Xi said the world has changed greatly since they last met in Bali, Indonesia, in November 2022, and that the U.S.-China relationship has never been “smooth sailing” over the past 50 years, but “it has kept moving forward.”
“For two large countries like China and the United States, turning their back on each other is not an option,” Mr. Xi said. “It is unrealistic for one side to remodel the other, and conflict and confrontation have terrible consequences for both sides. The world at large is big enough for the two countries to succeed.”
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The two leaders met at the Filoli Estate, about 25 miles south of downtown San Francisco, which is the Asian-Pacific Economic Cooperation conference site.
It marks the seventh interaction between Mr. Biden and his Chinese counterpart, their first since last year in Indonesia. The two have not had any phone calls or other communications since then, a senior White House official said.
Relations between the U.S. and China have sunk to their lowest level in decades. Several incidents put the world’s two largest economies inching toward conflict.
Incidents adding to the tensions include a Chinese spy balloon transversing the U.S. in February before the U.S. military shot it down, Chinese saber-rattling over Taiwan and Chinese hackers stealing 60,000 emails from a senior State Department official.