11/16/2021, 00.00
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Xi tells Biden that for relations to thaw interfering in China’s affairs must stop

The two leaders held their first direct, albeit virtual meeting since the US president took office. In exchange for cooperation, Beijing does not want US meddling in Xinjiang, Hong Kong, Tibet, the South and East China Seas, and especially Taiwan. Wide-ranging negotiations are difficult to open.

Beijing (AsiaNews) – Chinese President Xi Jinping and his US counterpart, Joe Biden, held their first direct meeting since the latter took office last January.

Held this morning (Chinese time), the virtual summit was described as “candid”, a diplomatic way of saying that the two leaders spoke frankly and did not reach any agreement.

During the exchange, the Chinese leader warned that the two countries can work together for peace and global development as long as there is no interference in China’s internal affairs.

The Chinese president said he wants bilateral relations to return to a "rational and pragmatic track” in order to resolve disputes in areas such as the economy, trade, energy, defense, technology, cyberspace and the environment.

For Xi certain “domestic” issues are non-negotiable, especially the thorniest, namely Taiwan, but the list includes human rights violations in Xinjiang, Hong Kong and Tibet, and territorial disputes in the South China and East China Seas.

Xi warned Biden that if Taiwan separatist forces cross a “red line”, Beijing would have no alternative but to "take drastic measures". Communist China considers the island a “rebel” province and has not rule out the use of force to take it.

For his part, Biden reiterated that the differences between the two countries must not veer into “open conflict". However, he stressed that the United States is opposed to any unilateral actions designed to change the status quo along the Taiwan Strait.

Last month, the US president said that his government would defend the island in the event of a Chinese attack, a departure from Washington's traditional "strategic ambiguity".

In Taiwan, local media report that Taiwanese and US officials will hold a high-level meeting today and tomorrow to discuss regional peace and stability, Sino-Taiwanese relations, and arms sales to the island.

The timing is certainly not accidental, given today's summit, even though the Taiwanese government has not yet confirmed the reports.

Meanwhile tensions are running high. The People’s Liberation Army’s Southern Theatre Command reported on Sunday that it conducted a series of "high-intensity" night drills with Xian H-6 strategic bombers earlier this month.

Planes from the island of Hainan could be used in attack operations in the South China Sea and the Taiwan Strait.

Against this complex backdrop, with a US Congress increasingly inclined to take a hard line towards China, it is unlikely that Biden and Xi will be able to open wide-ranging negotiations to end the trade, technological and, in a broader sense, geopolitical confrontation between their countries.

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