Biden-Xi meeting will help bilateral ties get past 'historic low': Scholar

11/15/2022 08:25 PM
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China Presiden Xi Jinping (left) and United States President Joe Biden meet in Bali on Monday. Photo courtesy of Reuters
China Presiden Xi Jinping (left) and United States President Joe Biden meet in Bali on Monday. Photo courtesy of Reuters

Taipei, Nov. 15 (CNA) The meeting Monday between United States President Joe Biden and Chinese leader Xi Jinping (習近平) will help turn the page on the "low point" in communication between their two countries that followed U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's visit to Taiwan over the summer, a Chinese scholar said Tuesday.

Bao Chengke (包承柯), assistant director at the Shanghai Institute for East-Asia Studies, said that China and the U.S. remain separated by "a vast political divide," perhaps most starkly on issues related to Taiwan.

While Monday's three-hour meeting in Bali between Xi and Biden did not resolve any of those problems, it gave them a chance to lay out their positions and define their red lines, he said.

According to Bao, communication between China and the U.S. reached a "historic low point" after Pelosi's visit to Taiwan in August, creating a situation in which "another step really could have resulted in military confrontation."

The Biden-Xi meeting reduced that risk, as both leaders were able to clearly state that they did not want to see a military conflict and were willing to work together to avoid it, Bao said.

"This meeting ... should set the China-U.S. relationship back on the right track, returning it to a situation in which conflict exists alongside cooperation, and the lines of communication remain open on the issue of Taiwan," he said.

According to a U.S. State Department readout of the meeting, Taiwan was an important part of the conversation, and Biden reiterated many of Washington's common stances on the issue.

The U.S. president "laid out in detail that our one-China policy has not changed, that the United States opposes any unilateral changes to the status quo by either side, and that the world has an interest in the maintenance of peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait," the readout said.

Biden also raised objections to China's "coercive and increasingly aggressive actions toward Taiwan, which undermine peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait and in the broader region and jeopardize economic practices," the State Department said.

Meanwhile, a readout from China's foreign ministry said Xi reiterated the major importance of the Taiwan issue.

"The Taiwan question is at the very core of China's core interests ... and the first red line that must not be crossed in China-U.S. relations," it said. "Anyone that seeks to split Taiwan from China will be violating the fundamental interests of the Chinese nation; the Chinese people will absolutely not let that happen."

Ahead of Monday's meeting, Lu Yeh-chung (盧業中), an assistant professor at National Chengchi University's Department of Diplomacy, told CNA that one of the major goals of the talks was likely to be the re-establishment of the "guardrails" in the relationship, to prevent the two sides from veering into conflict.

Lu also said that the timing of the meeting was apt, as both Xi and Biden had recently reinforced their positions as leaders of their respective countries.

Xi secured a third term as secretary-general of the Chinese Communist Party at the party's recent 20th national congress, while Biden avoided a "lame duck" status with his party's unexpectedly good showing in the U.S. midterm elections, Lu said.

(By Li Ya-wen, Huang Ya-shih and Matthew Mazzetta)

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