Defining Lines

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US President Joe Biden and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping met in the Indonesian capital of Jakarta Monday, with both leaders signaling desires to stabilize relations that have reached their lowest point in decades, the Wall Street Journal reported.

The roughly three-hour meeting – and the first in-person talks since Biden was elected two years ago – took place as both presidents were taking part in the summit of the Group of 20 major economies in Bali.

It came after months of escalating tensions following US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan in August, as well as other ongoing issues, including trade and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Regarding Taiwan, Xi told the American president that the self-governing island, which Beijing claims as its territory, is the first red line in the China-US relationship that can never be crossed. The Chinese leader also warned that any visit from senior US politicians would be seen as a provocation and could raise the possibility of clashes between the two superpowers.

Biden, meanwhile, stressed that the longstanding US policy regarding Taiwan hasn’t changed, while also objecting to China’s increasingly coercive and aggressive moves toward the island.

He also raised the issue of China’s human rights record, including its treatment of the ethnic Uyghurs and the suppression of civil liberties in Hong Kong.

The US president added that his Chinese counterpart is willing to compromise on some issues, although he did not name them.

Regarding Ukraine, the White House said the two leaders agreed that “a nuclear war should never be fought and underscored their opposition to the use – or threat of use – of nuclear weapons in Ukraine.”

Xi also restated China’s support for peace talks between Russia and Ukraine. He also hoped that Western nations would begin comprehensive negotiations with Moscow.

The talks marked a reopening of official communication between the two sides, with both leaders also enabling senior officials to expand dialogue on significant global issues.

It followed remarks by the International Monetary Fund chief over the weekend that highlighted how the rivalry between the two countries is splintering the world economy and threatening to leave everyone worse off, the Washington Post reported.

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