President Biden kicked the Group of 20 summit in Indonesia Tuesday saying the U.S. aims to manage competition with China “responsibly” and that there is no need for a new Cold War.
His comments came after a three-and-a-half-hour meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping the day prior.
“[Xi] was clear and I was clear that we’ll defend American interests and values, promote universal human rights and stand up for the international order and work in lockstep with our allies and partners,” Biden said during a press conference ahead of the G20 summit in Bali.
“We’re going to compete vigorously but I’m not looking for conflict. I’m looking to manage this competition responsibly,” Biden said. “And I want to make sure that every country abides by the international rules of the road. We discussed that.”
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Biden reiterated U.S. support for its longstanding “One China” policy, which recognizes the government in Beijing — while allowing for informal American relations and defense ties with Taipei, and “strategic ambiguity” over whether the U.S. would respond militarily if the island were attacked.
Biden said the U.S. remains committed to maintaining peace and stability in the Taiwan Straits, and that he doesn’t believe there is “any imminent attempt on the part of China to invade Taiwan.”
Biden’s meeting with Xi was the highlight of his weeklong, round-the-world trip to the Middle East and Asia, and came at a critical juncture for the two countries amid increasing economic and security tensions.
Xi, according to the Chinese government’s account of the meeting, “stressed that the Taiwan question is at the very core of China’s core interests, the bedrock of the political foundation of China-U.S. relations, and the first red line that must not be crossed in China-U.S. relations.”
Biden said he and Xi also discussed Russia’s aggression against Ukraine and “reaffirmed our shared belief” that the use or even the threat of nuclear weapons is “totally unacceptable.” That was a reference to Moscow’s thinly veiled threats to use atomic weapons as its nearly nine-month invasion of Ukraine has faltered.
Chinese officials have largely refrained from public criticism of Russia’s war, although Beijing has avoided direct support of the Russians, such as supplying arms.
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While there were no watershed breakthroughs, the Biden-Xi meeting brought each side long-sought, if modest, gains. In addition to the shared condemnation of Russian nuclear threats, Biden appeared to secure from Xi the resumption of lower-level cooperation from China on a range of shared global challenges. Meanwhile, Xi, who has aimed to establish China as a geopolitical peer of the U.S., got symbolic home turf for the meeting as well as Biden’s forceful One China policy commitment.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.