Chinese President Xi Jinping and U.S. President Joe Biden in a virtual meeting on Tuesday discussed strategic and fundamental issues on the development of bilateral relations.
The first face-to-face virtual meeting between the top two leaders lasted more than three hours. They opened their talks on a friendly note.
Chinese observers said that the meeting will inject certainty into the bilateral ties and is sending a signal that the two countries will cooperate in many areas. However, the countries could not avoid fierce competition. But the two powers are trying to manage competition is itself a positive sign.
A video released by China Central Television showed that Xi hailed Biden as an old friend in the opening remarks, saying that he was very happy to see his old friend and it is crucial for China and the U.S. to work together in addressing common challenges.
Both China and the U.S. are at critical stages of development, and the “global village” of humanity faces multiple challenges, the Chinese president said.
As the world’s two largest economies and permanent members of the UN Security Council, China and the U.S. need to increase communication and cooperation, each run their domestic affairs well and, at the same time, shoulder their share of international responsibilities, and work together to advance the noble cause of world peace and development, Xi told Biden.
A sound and steady China-U.S. relationship is needed for advancing the two countries’ respective development and for safeguarding a peaceful and stable international environment, including finding effective responses to global challenges such as climate change and the COVID-19 pandemic, Xi stressed.
“China and the US should respect each other, coexist in peace, and pursue win-win cooperation,” he said, expressing his readiness to work with Biden to build consensus and take active steps to move China-US relations forward in a positive direction.
Biden told Xi that he was looking forward to a “candid and forthright discussion” as in the past and he believed it is the responsibility of the two countries’ top leaders to ensure “the competition between our countries does not veer into conflict.”
We need to rebuild the guardrail of consensus, be clear and honest about our differences, and work together on areas of mutual interest, especially on major global issues like climate change. The relationship between our two countries has a huge impact not only on our two countries, but on the whole world, Biden said.
The virtual summit could enhance political trust between the two countries, which plays an important role for current and future development of bilateral relations and it is conducive for improving the atmosphere of bilateral relations, he continued.
The China-U.S. relationship is undoubtedly the most important relationship between major powers in today’s international relations. The ongoing virtual summit is sending a signal to the world that China and the U.S. will cooperate in many areas despite they could not avoid fierce competition, according to Chinese experts.
Ding Xuexiang, a member of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee and director of the General Office of the CPC Central Committee, Chinese Vice Premier Liu He, Yang Jiechi, a member of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee and director of the Office of the Foreign Affairs Commission of the CPC Central Committee, Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi as well as Vice Foreign Minister Xie Feng were among the attendees to the meeting, as a Xinhua picture showed.
U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, U.S. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan, White House Asia adviser Kurt Campbell and Laura Rosenberger, a U.S. foreign policy veteran are among the U.S. officials to the meeting, according to media reports.
The top leaders had spoken twice over the phone, in February and September.
The meeting lasted for 3 hours 14 minutes.
Xi Jinping urged for closer ties and improved cooperation with the U.S. during the formal meeting, but said that any change in relations must be based on mutual respect.
“As the world’s two largest economies and permanent members of the UN Security Council, China and the United States need to increase communication and cooperation,” Xi said, adding that the two nations should “respect each other” and seek to “coexist peacefully.”
While the Biden administration has repeatedly declared that the U.S. is in stiff “competition” with China, the U.S. President told Xi that it is their responsibility to ensure the two powers do not “veer into open conflict,” calling to establish “common-sense guardrails” to take war off the table, Reuters reported.
He nonetheless vowed to address some contentious issues, including alleged rights abuses by Beijing and other areas of concern in the Asia-Pacific region – where Washington continues to deploy warships and other military hardware after Biden’s Pentagon named China as its top priority.
The virtual meeting is the most extensive between Xi and Biden since the latter took office in January, and follows a tense high-level summit in Alaska last March that saw the two sides trade barbs in public. While recent military talks appeared to do little to improve ties, another sit-down involving U.S. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan and the head of China’s Central Foreign Affairs Commission, Yang Jiechi, was hailed as “substantive and constructive” by a U.S. official, who said it set “a different tone than Anchorage.” Monday’s talks between Biden and Xi came as a result of that meeting, which was held behind closed doors in Zurich, Switzerland.
The virtual meeting, deemed as a historical junction in redefining the future of China-U.S. relations, comes amid softening rhetoric from Washington over possible removal of punitive tariffs on some Chinese goods and skyrocketing inflation in the U.S. that has left its consumers and businesses weeping.
Ease U.S. Economic Woes
Analysts said the meeting between top leaders of the world’s two largest economies underscores the eagerness of Biden to seek expanding ties with Beijing to ease U.S. economic woes especially the U.S. inflation that has derailed the economy and taken a toll on the administration’s public support.
Some departmental meetings may be held later to implement some follow-up issues based on the meeting’s result, analysts predicted.
A day ahead of the meeting, Yellen told CBS that removing tariffs imposed by the Trump administration to Chinese imports “would make some difference” on inflation and added that U.S. trade representative Katherine Tai was “revisiting” the phase one trade agreement with Beijing.
In a letter addressed to U.S. trade representatives Katherine Tai and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen last week, two dozen American business associations urged the Biden administration to remove tariffs and broaden the scope of import duty exemptions.
In October, two rounds of trade talks between Chinese and U.S. senior officials were held, with both Tai and Yellen having talked with Liu.
The phase one trade agreement signed between China and the U.S. is set to expire on December 31. Under the agreement signed in January 2020, China has pledged to increase purchases of U.S. products within a timeframe of two years, while the U.S. made the commitment to roll back tariffs on Chinese goods in phases.
China Overtakes U.S. In Global Wealth Race
China has overtaken the U.S. as the nation which has amassed the biggest net worth as global wealth surges, a fresh report by consulting company McKinsey & Co suggests.
China’s wealth skyrocketed over the past two decades, the company said according to Bloomberg, explaining that its net worth increased by a whopping 17 times from $7 trillion in 2000 to $120 trillion in 2020.
The nation accounted for about one third of the global net worth increase over that period. In 2000, China joined the World Trade Organization, which sped up its economic ascent.
The U.S. saw its wealth double over the same time period. Washington had to give way to Beijing on the list of top 10 wealthiest nations since its net worth only amounted to $90 trillion in 2020, McKinsey says.
In both countries, more than two thirds of the amassed wealth sits in the pockets of the richest 10% of households, the report said, adding that this share has been increasing.
In total, global wealth reached $514 trillion in 2020, up from $156 trillion in 2000.
Some 68% of this wealth is stored in real estate, McKinsey said, adding that its fast growth surpassed the increase of the world’s GDP over the same period. The global wealth increase has been prompted by ballooning property prices, the company said, warning that surging real estate values might be unsustainable.
High prices might make it unaffordable for many people to buy residential property, McKinsey said, adding that such a situation could lead to a fresh financial crisis similar to that of 2008, which was triggered by the U.S. housing bubble burst. This time, it could affect China as well due to the debt owed by its property developers.
A collapse of asset prices could make as much as one third of the global wealth disappear, the consultancy company said.