Chinese President Xi Jinping and US Vice President Kamala Harris called for open communication during a brief meeting on Saturday, days after his extensive talks with President Joe Biden aimed at keeping tensions in check.
Harris and Xi met during an Asia-Pacific summit in Bangkok where another US rival, Russia, saw itself isolated, with no top leader attending and a statement issued showing wide condemnation of its war in Ukraine.
Speaking to Xi on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum, Harris reinforced Biden’s message that “we must maintain open lines of communication to responsibly manage the competition between our countries”, a White House official said.
On Monday, Biden and Xi met for three hours at a Group of 20 summit in Bali, the first in-person talks between the leaders of the world’s two largest economies since they each became president.
Chinese state media quoted Xi as telling Harris that his meeting with Biden was “strategic and constructive, and has important guiding significance for China-US relations in the next stage”.
“It is hoped that the two sides will further enhance mutual understanding, reduce misunderstanding and misjudgement, and jointly promote the return of China-US relations to a healthy and stable track,” added Xi, who is on only his second overseas trip since the pandemic.
US and Chinese officials have both put a positive spin on the renewal of diplomacy, while stopping short of predicting any substantive resolution of issues dividing them — notably Taiwan, the self-governing democracy claimed by Beijing.
Xi and Biden agreed that Secretary of State Antony Blinken will visit China early next year, the first visit by a top US diplomat since 2018.
Blinken told reporters in Bangkok that the contacts aimed at making sure that competition “does not veer into conflict” and examining areas of cooperation on global challenges such as climate change.
The United States said it was also looking for China to do more to rein in its ally North Korea, which on Friday test-fired a ballistic missile that US and Japanese officials said was likely capable of hitting the US mainland.
China should use its influence to persuade North Korea “not to go in this provocative direction, which only destabilises the region and the world”, said a US official travelling with Harris.