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Xi-Biden talk bolsters faith in stable ties

Three principles underlined to guide China-US bilateral relations in 2024

By ZHANG YUNBI | CHINA DAILY | Updated: 2024-04-04 06:55

The first phone conversation between President Xi Jinping and United States President Joe Biden since their landmark face-to-face meeting in November in San Francisco helped further shore up global faith in the stability of the relationship between the world's two largest economies, observers said.

The detailed consensus reached during the latest interaction between the two heads of state set out tasks to be accomplished this year, and underlined the need for China and the US to avoid potential major frustrations, they said.

So far, Xi and Biden have held two face-to-face meetings, including one in Bali, Indonesia, in 2022, and five phone conversations.

During their phone talk on Tuesday evening, Xi underlined three overarching principles that should guide China-US relations in 2024 — valuing peace, prioritizing stability and upholding credibility.

Urging the two countries to honor their pledges with actions and transform the San Francisco vision into reality, Xi told Biden that the issue of strategic perception is always fundamental to the China-US relationship.

The two countries should respect each other, coexist in peace and pursue win-win cooperation, and the relationship should continue to move forward in a stable, sound and sustainable way, instead of going backward, Xi added.

Diao Daming, a professor on US studies at Renmin University of China's School of International Relations, said that while last year's San Francisco summit set the tone for Sino-US relations, the phone talk took the ties one step further as it tapped the huge influence of head-of-state diplomacy to help effectively stabilize the relationship.

"If the US can fulfill the three major principles proposed by President Xi ... and work toward the same goal with China, the relationship is expected to remain stable this year," he added.

Experts said that Beijing aims to make Washington fully realize the seriousness of issues, including the US' suppression of Chinese companies, the Taiwan Strait situation and South China Sea concerns, have a correct perception of China-US relations and further manage potential risks.

During his phone conversation with Biden, Xi mentioned that "the negative factors" related to the China-US relationship "have also been growing", and this requires attention from both sides.

Diao said: "This fully reflects Beijing's clear-eyed judgment of the current relationship as well as its sense of duty toward the relationship. The recent wrong practices of the US have failed some of the commitments it made."

During the phone talk, Beijing welcomed visits to China by US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken in the near future.

Biden reiterated the commitment to the "five noes" — that the US does not seek a new Cold War with China, it does not aim to change China's system, the revitalization of its alliances is not targeted at China, it does not support "Taiwan independence", and it has no intention to seek a conflict with China.

The two sides tasked their teams to deliver on the San Francisco vision, including advancing the consultation mechanisms on a number of areas such as diplomacy and the economy, and to carry out dialogue and cooperation in areas such as counternarcotics and artificial intelligence.

Su Xiaohui, deputy director of the Department of American Studies at the China Institute of International Studies, said, "This shows that even though there are some problems and differences between the two countries, maintaining communication and putting issues on the table are necessary for stabilizing relations."

It will be a serious matter for both sides if the China-US relationship goes out of control, she said, adding that the uncertainty brought by the US presidential election is also something that needs to be managed.

"The US is breaching what it has been preaching. That's definitely not going to work (if it wants to improve its ties with China)," Su said.

During his recent visit to China, former US secretary of commerce Carlos Gutierrez rebutted claims that the two countries are destined for confrontation.

"We are not enemies. We compete, we disagree, (and) that's fine-friends disagree. But we cannot allow this to evolve, to turn into animosity," he told Chinese reporters.

"I believe our destiny is to be closer, is to be friends, is to be collaborators, is to help develop a better world for everyone, not just for our own two peoples. … When that day comes, I think it will be an era of peace and prosperity for the world."


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