Biden dismisses new ‘Cold War’ with China
President Biden on Monday said there does not need to be a new “Cold War” with China, following what he characterized as a straightforward and candid meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping in Bali, Indonesia.
It was the first face-to-face meeting for Biden and Xi as leaders of their respective countries, but followed a handful of phone calls since the start of the administration as relations between Washington and Beijing are viewed at their lowest point in decades.
“I absolutely believe, there need not be a new Cold War,” the president said in a press conference with reporters.
“We were candid and clear with one another across the board,” said Biden, who often emphasizes that he understands Xi from the time both spent serving as vice presidents in their countries.
The Biden administration has identified China as the greatest challenge and competitor to the U.S. in the 21st century.
Beijing’s close ties with Russia amid Moscow’s war in Ukraine have sunk the relationship to a low point.
China’s threats to Taiwan, its stifling of democracy in Hong Kong and its human rights record, including allegations of genocide against Uyghur Muslims, have further inflamed the relationship.
Biden on Monday offered a fairly positive view following the meeting with Xi, despite these differences.
On the threat of nuclear weapons, Biden said that he and Xi “reaffirmed our shared belief in the threat, where the use of nuclear weapons is totally unacceptable.”
That could be read as a statement pointed at Russian President Vladimir Putin, who has threatened Ukraine with the use of nuclear weapons.
But Biden, in his press conference, focused on his conversation with Xi about China exercising more influence in reining in North Korea’s nuclear provocations.
“I made it clear to President Xi Jinping that I thought they had an obligation to attempt to make it clear to North Korea that they should not engage in long range nuclear tests,” the president said.
He added that he told Xi if North Korea did conduct such a test, the U.S. would “take certain actions that would be more defensive on our behalf and it would not be directed against China, but it would be to send a clear message to North Korea.”
The White House has earlier said it believes that the issue of North Korea’s nuclear provocations is the one area where the U.S. and China share the most in common.
Biden was candid that he did not think Washington and China are “gonna be able to work everything out,” but added that the leaders agreed to set up high-level meetings to discuss tense issues in the relationship.
“But I do not believe there’s a need for concern of …a new Cold War,” he said.
“I want to be clear, and be clear with all leaders, but particularly with Xi Jinping, that I mean what I say and I say what I mean, so there’s no misunderstanding. That’s the biggest concern I have, is a misunderstanding about intentions or actions on each of our parts.”