Biden-Xi phone conversation seen as a significant step to rebuild relations between 2 superpowers

New Delhi, Apr 3: The recent phone conversation between US President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping marks a significant step in the ongoing efforts to rebuild relations between the two superpowers. This dialogue, the first since their in-person summit in November, reflects a shared attempt to defuse tensions between the two countries, perhaps amidst a backdrop of continuing global turbulence that has all the ingredients of intensifying and immensely damaging the global economy.

Against the backdrop of conflicts in Gaza and Ukraine, as well as concerns over North Korea’s nuclear capabilities, the leaders addressed a range of issues. From Taiwan to China’s activities in the South China Sea and human rights abuses amid the complexity of the relationship and the challenges that lie ahead.

However, amidst these contentious topics, there were also discussions on areas of potential cooperation on soft issues. Both leaders recognized the importance of countering narcotics, navigating the rapidly evolving landscape of artificial intelligence, and addressing climate change.

The White House described the conversation as “candid and constructive,” highlighting both areas of agreement and disagreement. President Biden emphasized the need for “peace and stability” across the Taiwan Strait and expressed concerns about China’s support for Russia’s defence industry.

President Biden also raised concerns about TikTok, emphasizing the importance of safeguarding American national security. These discussions reflect broader concerns about trade tactics and technological developments.

Additionally, it noted President Biden’s reassurances regarding the United States’ commitment to not seek conflict with China and his plans for senior officials’ visits to China to strengthen dialogue and cooperation.

Chinese officials and media said the discussion revolved around the bilateral relationship between China and the United States, covering a spectrum of mutual interests.

President Xi reflected on the San Francisco meeting with President Biden last November, emphasizing its role in a forward-looking trajectory for their ties. Acknowledging recent efforts by officials to translate these understandings into action, President Xi noted a trend toward stabilization in China-U.S. relations, although he also highlighted the emergence of negative factors demanding mutual attention.

Emphasizing the importance of strategic perception, President Xi likened it to the first button of a shirt, stressing that China and the United States should not sever ties or drift into conflict. Instead, he advocated for mutual respect, peaceful coexistence, and cooperation for mutual benefit, urging both sides to uphold peace, stability, and credibility in their interactions.

In outlining principles to guide China-U.S. relations in 2024, President Xi prioritized peace, stability, and credibility. He underscored the need to avoid conflict or confrontation, maintain overall stability, and honour commitments made, particularly regarding sensitive issues such as Taiwan.

Addressing concerns about U.S. actions affecting China’s trade and technology development, President Xi urged concrete actions reflecting President Biden’s commitment to not support “Taiwan independence.” He cautioned against measures perceived as containment, emphasizing China’s openness to mutually beneficial cooperation.

The call concluded with a commitment to maintain open channels of communication and to responsibly manage the relationship through high-level diplomacy. Secretary of State Antony Blinken is set to visit China, underscoring the importance of continued dialogue.

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen is set to embark on a visit to China later this week. This visit marks her second trip to the country since assuming her role as Treasury secretary.

During her visit, Yellen is scheduled to make stops in Guangzhou and Beijing, where she will engage in meetings with economists, students, and members of the business community. A Treasury official briefed reporters on Monday, highlighting Yellen’s intention to hold candid discussions on what the administration perceives as “unfair” trade practices by China.

CNN reported quoting a senior administration official, providing insights ahead of the call, emphasized that despite significant efforts made by both countries to reduce tensions in U.S.-China relations over the past year, a key principle articulated by President Biden following his summit with Xi Jinping still holds: “Trust but verify.”

Addressing Xi’s pledge that Beijing will not interfere in the U.S. 2024 election, the official stressed the importance of verification. “I don’t think we ever really take the Chinese at their word when they say they will or will not do something. It is about verifying, as the president says,” the official explained to CNN. “Verifying the results we see, the actions we see, and then continuing to underscore and press on what our concerns are.”

Overall, while challenges remain, the Biden-Xi phone call represents a step forward in rebuilding trust and cooperation between the two nations. As they navigate a complex geopolitical landscape, the commitment to dialogue and engagement offers, several other countries, sitting on the fence will keep observing the development with hope for progress and stability in the years to come.

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