The Biden-Xi Summit Lowered the Temperature on U.S.-China Relations

The Biden-Xi Summit Lowered the Temperature on U.S.-China Relations
U.S. President Joe Biden meets virtually with Chinese President Xi Jinping from the Roosevelt Room of the White House, Washington, Nov. 15, 2021 (AP photo by Susan Walsh).

The much-anticipated virtual summit Monday between U.S. President Joe Biden and his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, marked the most substantial exchange between the two leaders since Biden took office in January. The meeting, which ran overtime and lasted three and a half hours, followed two phone calls between Biden and Xi, in February and September. But apart from pledges to improve cooperation, the summit yielded no major breakthroughs between the two rivals, which remain at odds over a number of issues, including trade, human rights and a military buildup in the Asia-Pacific region.

Sitting among top government officials in the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, Xi kicked off the video conference on a positive note. “Today is the first time we have met by video,” he began. “I’m very happy to see my old friend.” Xi later called for “a sound and steady China-U.S. relationship,” where the two countries can coexist peacefully and cooperate on a range of global issues, including climate change and pandemic response efforts.

Echoing his remarks from a prerecorded video address to the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit last Friday, the Chinese president called on Washington to take steps to show it is not, as Biden told the U.N. General Assembly in September, seeking a “new Cold War.” 

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