US and China maintain military ties after summit, but to Biden, Xi Jinping is a “dictator”

US and China maintain military ties after summit, but to Biden, Xi Jinping is a “dictator”

  • Max Macka in San Francisco and Gareth Evans in Washington
  • BBC News

photo editor, Reuters

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US and Chinese Presidents Biden and Xi Jinping

US President Joseph Biden has said the US and China have resumed military communications in an effort to defuse rising tensions.

“We are back to direct, open and clear communication,” Biden said after meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping in California.

It was the first meeting between US and Chinese presidents in over a year.

Biden also said he agreed to have direct contact with Xi.

At a news conference after the summit at a historic plantation near San Francisco, Biden said a lack of communication “leads to accidents.”

The US president added that now we can pick up the phone and communicate directly.

Chinese officials cut off military communications after then-US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited Taiwan last year.

Official Beijing considers Taiwan its own territory and threatens to annex it by force if necessary.

“There are many differences of opinion,” Bayan said, adding that the Chinese president is straightforward.

He noted that the talks were “one of the most constructive and productive discussions they have ever had”.

The extent to which relations are still damaged is best illustrated by Biden’s response to a reporter’s question about whether he considers Xi a dictator, to which he answered in the affirmative.

“He’s a dictator, he’s a man who runs the country in a completely different way than we do,” Biden said.

When he made a similar comment in June, Chinese officials reacted angrily, describing him as “irresponsible and ridiculous”.

Along with the restoration of military ties, several more agreements were announced in areas that have recently caused tension.

This includes taking steps to curb the production of fentanyl in the United States, which is contributing to an increase in the number of overdose deaths.

Chinese companies are a source not only of the synthetic opioid, but also of the chemicals that make it.

“We will take every step to significantly reduce the importation of those chemicals and tablet presses from China to the West,” Biden said.

“It will save lives,” the US president added.

The two leaders also discussed the conflict between Israel and Hamas in the Middle East.

An unnamed senior U.S. official told reporters that Biden had asked China to use its influence over Iran to avoid taking actions that could be seen as a provocation.

Also discussed was Taiwan, which, according to the US official, is “the biggest and most dangerous issue in US-China relations”, Xi Jinping said.

Representatives of the two superpowers agreed to jointly devote themselves to testing artificial intelligence.

China said military contact had been restored “on the basis of equality and respect”.

“Planet Earth is big enough for two countries to succeed, and one country’s success is another country’s opportunity,” Xi said in his opening remarks.

The Chinese president added, “This conflict has unbearable consequences for both sides.”

The meeting was held on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit and was expected, but officials from both sides played down expectations of major breakthroughs.

“The goal is to prevent downside risks and conflicts and ensure open lines of communication,” said a senior US administration official.

The US accused China of being a spy plane, while Beijing countered that the balloon was being used for meteorological purposes.

US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken visited Beijing in June, becoming the highest-ranking Washington official to visit the Chinese capital in nearly half a decade.

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“Emotional farewell”: US returns pandas to China

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