Biden expressed to Xi Jinping his concern about human rights and the threat against Taiwan during a meeting that lasted more than three hours

The US president speaks virtually with the Chinese president (JONATHAN ERNST /)

The Presidents of the United States and China, Joe Biden and Xi Jinping, respectively, They began this Monday a virtual summit that lasted about three and a half hours, more than initially programmed by the delegations, according to the White House. According to the US president, the meeting was held to avoid “a conflict” between Washington and Beijing., confirmed the AFP.

Despite the long duration of the meeting, a senior White House official told reporters at a telephone press conference that there was no significant progress or agreement.

“We are not expecting a breakthrough. There were none. Nothing to report ”, the official said.

Biden and Xi addressed a range of issues, including Taiwan extensively, yet being the “responsible management of competition” between the two countries the main issue on the table.

In the case of Taiwan, Biden told Xi that the United States opposes “unilateral changes in the status quo.” and reiterated Washington’s commitment to the “one China” policy that recognizes only Beijing as a state, but he warned that they “strongly oppose unilateral attempts to change or decimate peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait.”

A screen that shows the meeting between the leaders of the USA and China
A screen showing the meeting between the leaders of the United States and China (TINGSHU WANG /)

The American leader also put human rights on the table at various times during the meeting and, according to the official, “He was quite clear and quite honest with the variety of concerns” about.

In a later statement, the White House explained that Biden spoke of Hong Kong, Tibet and Xinjiang.

Too they talked about Iran, a subject of friction between the two countries over the purchase of Iranian crude by Beijing, although according to the White House the leaders focused on exchanging opinions in the face of nuclear negotiations.

They also spoke about the Indo-Pacific region, which the two countries have their sights on, and Biden conveyed to Xi his intention to keep it “open and free.”

Biden stated that “containment” measures are needed and that “competition between the two countries should not turn into a conflict”. Xi, for his part, said that the two countries should “improve their communication and cooperation.”

Biden tells Xi he's looking for a dialogue
Biden tells Xi that he seeks an “honest and direct” dialogue at the beginning of the meeting (SARAH SILBIGER / POOL /)

The two presidents have spoken at length by phone twice since Biden’s inauguration in January. Given Xi’s refusal to travel abroad due to the pandemic, an online meeting was chosen.

“I am willing to work with you”continued the Chinese president.

The conversation between the two began at 7:45 p.m. Washington time (0045 GMT on Tuesday) and could last “several hours,” White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki reported on Monday.

Biden’s advisers present the summit as an opportunity to try to avoid an escalation in tensions, particularly over Taiwan, an autonomous democracy that China considers a rogue province.

“We know that, as a responsible global leader, it is important to keep communication channels open”a senior US government official told reporters about Biden.

Biden and Xi greet each other through a virtual meeting
Biden and Xi greet each other through a virtual meeting (JONATHAN ERNST /)

“The president will also make it clear that we want to build common safeguards to avoid miscalculations or misunderstandings.”He added, although he sought to moderate expectations by noting that great results are not expected from the summit.

The meeting is held after Biden criticized Xi’s absence at major international events and as the Chinese president strengthens his grip on the regime.

Relations between the two powers hit rock bottom during the presidency of Donald Trump (2017-2021), who launched a trade war against China while attacking Beijing for its handling of the pandemic.

Biden recast the confrontation more broadly, that of a struggle between democracy and autocracy, and despite his tone being more measured than Trump’s, the relationship between Washington and Beijing is very tense.


Taiwan is what generates the most tension between the two powers in the face of an intensification of Chinese military activities with a record number of incursions into the island’s air defense zone.

The tension was evident at the weekend between the Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, and his counterpart, Chinese Wang Yi.

Virtual meeting of President Biden with Xi Jinping in which US Secretary of State Antony Blinken is observed
Virtual meeting of President Biden with Xi Jinping in which the US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken is observed (JONATHAN ERNST /)

Blinken voiced “concern over Beijing’s continuing military, diplomatic and economic pressure” on Taipei, while Wang warned against any US action that could be construed as support for “Taiwan independence.”

On Monday, Beijing placed the responsibility of improving relations on Biden.

“We hope that the United States will work in the same direction as China to get along well.”said Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian.

However, the US official pointed out that Biden “will be very direct and frank about the issues” that “cause concern” to the White House, alluding to the “coercive and provocative behavior of China with respect to Taiwan” as well as what Washington considers human rights violations and aggressive business practices by China.

Virtual meeting between Biden and his Chinese counterpart
Virtual meeting between Biden and his Chinese counterpart (JONATHAN ERNST /)

However, he stressed that there is room for cooperation in various areas, such as climate change.

This virtual meeting takes place at a time when Xi Jinping strengthens his control over the regime, as evidenced by the adoption on Thursday of a resolution of the Communist Party of China, celebrating its centenary, which highlights the president’s legacy among the icons of the regime.

This has “further cemented” the concentration of power in the hands of the Chinese president, according to the official.

“If Biden and Xi can establish a regular rhythm of communication, with face-to-face meetings when the conditions are right, then China and the United States can more easily manage the volatility and risks in their relationship.”, estimates Danny Russel, high diplomat during the mandate of Barack Obama and specialist in Asia, in an article for the magazine “Foreign Affairs”.

Today is the first formal meeting between the two leaders since Biden took office in January this year and comes in a climate of growing geostrategic tensions between the two countries.

(With information from EFE and AFP)


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