National Security Council coordinator John Kirby on Tuesday said President Biden’s recent meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping did not signify a “reset” in U.S.-China relations but rather showed a balancing act.
“I don’t think they’d characterize it as tensions thawing,” Kirby said in answer to questions from reporters on the new state of relations between Biden and Xi. Adding that last week’s meeting were “very much in keeping with the president’s desire to keep the channels of communication with Chinese leaders open.”
“As the president said after meeting with President Xi, there’s going to be issues where there’s still tension in a relationship,” he added pointing to U.S. concerns about China’s aggression against Taiwan and qualms over its fair trade practices.
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“There are still tensions. There are still things we do not agree with the Chinese about,” he added.
Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris met with Xi last week in an effort to keep the “lines of communication open” following years of increasingly tense ties between Washington and Beijing.
“As the President has also said, following his meeting with President Xi, there are areas where we can and should cooperate,” Kirby added, pointing to issues like Climate change and global food scarcity. “We need to balance those two competing needs and be able to balance this relationship.”
The president and Xi’s meeting at the G20 summit in Indonesia was the first time the two world leaders had met in person since Biden took up the Oval Office.
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U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai said she was “optimistic” following the talks though Xi called on Western nations not to “weaponize” energy and food security in a veiled reference to the war in Ukraine, which China has refused to condemn.
Kirby said overall the fact that the U.S. and China are making a commitment to increase lines of communication was a “positive thing” but said that more work needs to be done to ensure talks are not only happening at the highest levels.
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“What we want to make sure is that those aren’t the only channels of communication that are open to us,” he told reporters.
Kirby said that Secretary of State Antony Blinken will travel to China in the “near future” to help lead this effort.