Washington: Chinese President Xi Jinping called for cooperation with the United States ahead of long-awaited talks with Joe Biden that comes amid a slew of disputes between the two powers.
The two presidents, who have not met in person since Biden’s election, are expected to hold a virtual summit soon, diplomats said. CNN quoted sources as saying the talks could take place next week.
Xi set a conciliatory tone in a letter read by China’s ambassador, Qin Gang, to a gala dinner on Tuesday evening in New York. “Right now, China-US relations are at a critical historical juncture. Both countries will gain from cooperation and lose from confrontation,” Xi said, according to an embassy statement.
“Cooperation is the only right choice,” he said. “China stands ready to work with the United States to enhance exchanges and cooperation across the board, jointly address regional and international issues as well as global challenges and, in the meantime, properly manage differences.”
Relations between the United States and China have deteriorated sharply in recent years, with the US worried about Xi’s assertive push both at home and abroad. Tensions have risen in particular over Taiwan, a self-ruling democracy claimed by China and backed by the United States, with Beijing last month making a record number of incursions near the island.
Other areas of tension include human rights, with the United States asserting that Beijing is carrying out genocide against the Uyghur minority, and trade policies that the United States says are unfair. Biden has largely kept the tougher approach on China of his predecessor Donald Trump, with both administrations considering a rising China to be the top challenge of the 21st century.
But Biden, who as vice president met extensively with Xi, has also indicated he will take a more diplomatic tone and prioritise working with allies on concerns about China. Biden initially hoped to meet Xi on the sidelines of the recent Group of 20 summit in Rome but the Chinese leader has not gone abroad since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic. Instead, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken met in Rome with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi with both top diplomats taking a firm tone on Taiwan.