The US and Chinese presidents had an unexpected and lengthy hour and a half telephone conversation on the night of Thursday to Friday.
The dialogue sought to try to reduce binational tension and prevent the duel between the two major global powers from generating the unwanted effect of “an involuntary … unintentional conflict.” A “dangerous” scenario, according to White House sources.
The conversation between Joe Biden and Xi Jinping ended a seven-month gap in direct communication between the leaders of the economic giants of this era. The previous one took place in February and lasted two hours. The call was confirmed by the White House and the Chinese media.
The discussion, which lasted 90 minutes, focused on finding a way forward for the relationship between the two countries. Biden initiated the call. They discussed “areas where our interests converge and areas where our interests, values and perspectives diverge,” the White House said in a statement.
Since the Democratic president took office in January, the duel with the People’s Republic that his predecessor Donald Trump had already started has deepened. Washington accuses China of not providing enough information about the pandemic: of encouraging cyber espionage actions and violating human rights.
Chinese diplomacy usually responds to such accusations, flagging similar problems in the United States.
Hence the importance of this conversation according to analysts, because it comes at a time when Washington and Beijing are dealing with escalating friction that also includes the question of Hong Kong, where the independent style of that territory was not respected until 2047 as it had been. or that of Taiwan, which the People’s Republic claims as part of its sovereignty.
However, unlike the east-west duel of the last century between the US and the USSR, there is a mutual economic dependence between these two giants, who coincide in the fight against terrorism or the issue of climate change.
Chinese state media reported that the talk was “sincere” and “profound,” adding that President Xi said it was US policy on China that created great difficulties in the link.
The spokesman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry, Zhao Lijian, commented that the two presidents “agreed to maintain regular contacts through multiple means” and that both would work to accelerate diplomatic efforts “in order to create favorable conditions for the development of relations between China and the US ”. Possibly the most relevant result of the dialogue.
Speaking to Al Jazeera, Benjamin Herscovitch, principal investigator at the Australian National University’s School of Regulation and Global Governance, said the call is a “positive step” ahead of several major multilateral meetings, including the 76th session of the United Nations General Assembly, the upcoming Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meeting and the G20 summit in October.
During the call, Biden’s message was that the US wants to make sure that “the dynamic remains competitive and that we don’t have any situations in the future where we move into unintentional conflict,” an official told reporters. of the US government.
In Beijing, state broadcaster CCTV reported that the dialogue was “sincere, deep” and covered “extensive strategic communications and exchanges on binational relations.”
The Democratic government has kept in effect the tariffs against Chinese products that Trump had imposed in the so-called trade war, which was actually a competition for technological leadership.
But, according to White House sources, the diplomatic impasse against this background became unsustainable and potentially dangerous, which made the intervention of the leaders themselves essential to calm the waters.
“We welcome stiff competition, but we do not want the competition to turn into a conflict,” added the official who requested anonymity. The objective of the call was to establish “security measures” so that the relationship can be “managed responsibly”.
The intention is that US actions are not “misinterpreted” by China. The forerunner of the angry exchange in March in Alaska between US Chancellor Antony Blinken and senior diplomats of the People’s Republic was recalled.