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Chinese President Xi Jinping meets US President Joe Biden via video link, as seen at a restaurant in Beijing on November 16. Photo: Reuters

How Xi and Biden tackled hot-button issues at virtual summit

  • Readouts from the Chinese foreign ministry and the White House offer insights into wide-ranging virtual meeting lasting well over three hours
  • Both leaders stressed the need for cooperation, while laying down red lines on Taiwan, trade and human rights
Chinese President Xi Jinping and his US counterpart Joe Biden both emphasised the importance of cooperation when they met for a virtual summit on Tuesday.

While a full transcript of the meeting, which lasted over 3½ hours and covered a wide range of topics, has not been released, the Chinese foreign ministry and the White House have published readouts summarising the proceedings.

Here’s how they addressed key issues discussed by the two leaders.

Bilateral relations

China: Xi emphasised that bilateral relations should be characterised by cooperation and non-interference, and highlighted the three principles of “mutual respect”, “peaceful coexistence”, and “win-win cooperation”, the ministry said.

“With their interests deeply intertwined, China and the US stand to gain from cooperation and lose from confrontation,” Xi was quoted as saying. “The world is big enough for the two countries to develop individually and collectively.”

US: According to the White House statement, “President Biden underscored that the United States will continue to stand up for its interests and values and, together with our allies and partners, ensure the rules of the road for the 21st century advance an international system that is free, open, and fair.”

Tensions over Taiwan

China: Xi described the heightened tensions in the Taiwan Strait as a “dangerous” trend, saying that Taiwanese authorities were trying to “rely on the United States for independence”, while others in the US intended to “use Taiwan to control China”, the ministry readout said.


“Such moves are extremely dangerous, just like playing with fire. Whoever plays with fire will get burnt,” Xi was quoted as saying.

“If ‘Taiwan independence’ separatist forces provoke [us] or cross our red line, we will have to take decisive measures.”


Chinese Communist Party resolution cements Xi Jinping leadership, putting him on par with Mao

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US: “On Taiwan, President Biden underscored that the United States remains committed to the one-China policy, guided by the Taiwan Relations Act, the three joint communiqués and the six assurances, and that the United States strongly opposes unilateral efforts to change the status quo or undermine peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait,” the White House readout stated.

Human rights concerns

China: On the topic of human rights, Xi further emphasised the importance of “respect” between the US and China, but the Chinese foreign ministry’s readout did not explicitly mention the issues of Xinjiang, Tibet and Hong Kong.

“We are willing to engage in dialogue on human rights issues on the basis of mutual respect, but we do not approve of interfering in other countries’ internal affairs through human rights issues,” he said.

US: Biden raised concerns about China’s “practices in Xinjiang, Tibet, and Hong Kong, as well as human rights more broadly”, according to the White House statement.

Economic and trade relations

China: Xi said Beijing and Washington could work towards “win-win” outcomes, but warned the US not to “politicise” trade, according to the ministry.

“The US should stop abusing or overstretching the concept of national security to suppress Chinese businesses. It is imperative for China and the US to maintain communication on macroeconomic policies, support world economic recovery and guard against economic and financial risks,” he said.


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US: Biden expressed the need to protect American workers and industries from China’s “unfair trade and economic practices”, the White House said.

Regional stability

China: Beijing harbours no intention to expand or “dominate” other regions, as “China has no intention of promoting its own path all over the world,” Xi was reported to have said, noting that China and the Chinese people have always “loved and advocated peace”.

US: On the same topic, the White House said Biden “discussed the importance of a free and open Indo-Pacific, and communicated the continued determination of the United States to uphold [its] commitments in the region”.

He also “reiterated the importance of freedom of navigation and safe overflight to the region’s prosperity”, the statement said.