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Joe Biden seeks 'commonsense guardrails' in virtual summit with Xi Jinping

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Joe Biden seeks 'commonsense guardrails' in virtual summit with Xi Jinping
U.S. President Joe Biden said the U.S. and China must establish "common-sense guardrails" during a virtual summit with Chinese President Xi Jinping on Monday. Photo by Sarah Silbiger/UPI
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Nov. 15 (UPI) -- U.S. President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping called for their nations to stabilize their relationship during a virtual summit on Monday.

The virtual meeting was the second direct conversation between Biden and Xi in three months. The two spoke by phone in September.

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Biden opened the conversation by expressing the need to "establish some common-sense guardrails," acknowledging his close relationship with Xi as both served as their countries' vice presidents while the nations are now engaged in "intense competition" and rising tension over military activity and human rights.

"We've spent an awful lot of time talking to one another and I hope we can have a candid conversation tonight as well," Biden said to kick off the evening conversation from the Roosevelt Room of the White House.

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Xi also opened the meeting on a cordial note as he spoke from a chamber in the Great Hall of the People in Beijing.

"Although it's not as good as a face-to-face meeting, I'm very happy to see my old friend," Xi said.

Biden and Xi were expected to speak for about three hours and go over ground that covers a multitude of concerns on the U.S. side, chiefly human rights, military aggression from Beijing and Taiwan.

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Monday's talks come as the United States last month urged China to stop "provocative" flights over Taiwan's airspace, as Beijing has viewed the island nation as a breakaway province since the civil war in the 1940s.

"The two leaders will discuss ways to responsibly manage the competition between the United States and [China], as well as ways to work together where our interests align," the White House said in a statement.

"Throughout, President Biden will make clear U.S. intentions and priorities and be clear and candid about our concerns."

President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping spoke by phone in September, but Monday's will be their first full-fledged bilateral meeting, which they will attend remotely. File Photo by Stephen Shaver/UPI
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Biden said he was looking forward to a "candid and forthright discussion," asking for the ability to communicate "honestly and directly" about a range of topics.

"As I've said before, it seems to me our responsibility as leaders of China and the United States is to ensure the competition between our two countries does not veer into conflict, either intended or unintended. Just simply straightforward competition," he said.

The discussions were also expected to focus on other issues such as trade, supply chain issues, COVID-19 and climate change.

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"Our two countries are in a fundamentally different place with each other than we have been in the past," a senior administration official said, according to CNN. "It's a multi-faceted dynamic, it's complex and it does not have a historical parallel."

Lu Xiang, research fellow at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said that a major factor in the talks will be how the U.S. government defines its relationship with China between "cooperation and competition."

"If the U.S. continues pursuing the rivalry strategy against China, it should be put under certain rules rather than building a small circle to contain China, which won't work," Lu told the Beijing state-run Global Times.

The Biden administration has also joined other world powers in sanctioning Chinese officials for human rights abuses against the country's Uighur Muslim population and other minorities.

Recently, however, the two countries announced a surprise agreement to work together to combat climate change during the COP26 summit in Glasgow last week.

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