Bilateral Talks: Biden and Xi Discuss Taiwan, AI, and Fent..

Bilateral Talks: Biden and Xi Discuss Taiwan, AI, and Fentanyl to Restore Regular Leader Discussions

Introduction

On Tuesday, President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping engaged in bilateral discussions on Taiwan, artificial intelligence, and health issues, aiming to demonstrate a return to leader-to-leader talks between the two powers. The call marked the first conversation between leaders since the November summit in California, which birthed new military ties between the two countries and a pledge from China to enhance cooperation in curbing the deadly fentanyl flow and its precursors. Such calls kick off several high-level engagements between the two nations, with Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen set to visit China on Thursday, followed by Secretary of State Antony Blinken in the coming weeks.

Promoting Bilateral Engagement

Biden emphasized the importance of sustained bilateral engagement at all levels of government, believing it to be key in preventing confrontation between the two major economies and nuclear powers. While summit meetings may occur only once a year personally, officials noted Washington and Beijing acknowledge the significance of frequent bilateral engagements. Both leaders exchanged bilateral views on Taiwan before the island’s presidential inauguration of Lai Ching-te next month, which has signaled its intent to safeguard its de facto independence from China and further align itself with other democracies.

Biden reaffirmed America’s longstanding “One China” policy and reiterated opposition to any forcible bilateral measures by Beijing to bring Taiwan under its control. China views Taiwan as a domestic matter and has protested against American support. Biden also expressed bilateral concerns about China’s actions in the South China Sea, including attempts last month to prevent the Philippines, bound by a defense treaty with the U.S., from deploying its forces to the disputed Second Thomas Shoal.

Upcoming Bilateral Leadership Summit

Next week, Biden will host a bilateral joint leadership summit at the White House with Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, where countering China’s influence in the region was expected to be top of the agenda. Biden, in the call with Xi, pressed China to fulfill its commitments to curb the illicit flow of narcotics and take further actions to prevent their emergence and develop a schedule for additional precursor chemicals. This commitment stems from last year’s Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation meeting of finance ministers on the sidelines of this issue discussed among leaders.

In the summit last November, Biden and Xi agreed to discuss their governments’ promises and threats regarding new artificial intelligence in the coming weeks. This pairing touches on the matter just two weeks after China and the U.S. gained support from over 120 other countries in a United Nations resolution advocating for global protections around emerging technology.

Biden’s Cybersecurity Concerns

According to a senior U.S. official speaking on the condition of anonymity, Biden, in the bilateral call, also reinforced warnings against cyberattacks aimed at American interests and infrastructure by Beijing, in conjunction with interference in the 2024 elections. He also expressed bilateral concerns about human rights in China, including its treatment of Hong Kong under the new national security law and its conduct with minority groups, as well as raised the plight of Americans detained or prevented from leaving China.

The Democratic president also applied bilateral pressure on China over its defense ties with Russia, which, amid its advancing assault on Ukraine, is eager to rebuild its industrial base. And he urged Beijing to maintain its influence over North Korea to stave off the risk of unchecked and disordered atomic power. As leaders of the world’s two largest economies, Biden also voiced concerns over China’s “unfair economic practices” and reiterated a commitment to safeguard American security and economic interests, including continuing to limit China’s transfer of advanced technology.

Yellen’s Economic Diplomacy Tour

Biden and Xi Discuss
Biden and Xi Discuss

This call comes ahead of Yellen’s tour of Guangzhou and Beijing, where she is scheduled to meet with the world’s second-largest economy’s financial leaders for bilateral meetings on the topic for a week – including Vice Premier He Lifeng, Chinese Central Bank Governor Yi Gang, and former Deputy Prime Minister Liu He, among others. An advisory for the upcoming tour stated that Yellen “will advocate for American workers and businesses to ensure they are treated fairly, including pressing Chinese counterparts on unfair trade practices.”

Before she visited China, Yellen had said last week that Beijing’s market was brimming with green energy that was “distorting global prices.” She said they shared their beliefs with their fellow honchos on how Beijing’s solar power, electric vehicles, and lithium-ion battery production were posing threats to global manufacturing and economic growth.

TikTok Ownership Regulation

American legislators’ frustration with TikTok’s Chinese ownership has sparked the introduction of fresh bipartisan laws. These regulations propose banning the app unless its Chinese parent company, ByteDance, sells its shares within six months of the bill becoming law. As chair of the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, which reviews foreign ownership of firms in the U.S., Yellen has considerable latitude to determine how the company can operate in America.

Meanwhile, Chinese leaders have set a 5% economic growth target for this year due to difficulties in the real estate sector and the lingering effects of stringent anti-virus measures during the COVID-19 pandemic. China dominates in batteries for electric vehicles, and its rapidly expanding auto industry could challenge established players worldwide.

Last year, the U.S. proposed curtailing tax credits for EV buyers if they purchase cars with battery materials from China and other countries deemed adversarial to America. Separately, the Commerce Department launched an investigation into the potential national security risks posed by Chinese car imports.

Conclusion

In conclusion, the recent discussion between Biden and Xi marks a significant step towards reinstating regular bilateral leader talks. Their dialogue covered critical issues such as Taiwan, AI, and the fentanyl crisis, showcasing a shared commitment to addressing pressing global challenges through cooperation. By engaging in constructive bilateral discussions, both leaders aim to foster greater understanding and collaboration between their nations.

The emphasis on these key topics underscores the importance of maintaining open channels of communication to navigate complex geopolitical landscapes. As they push for a return to regular leader talks, Biden and Xi demonstrate a willingness to tackle sensitive issues head-on in pursuit of mutual understanding and strategic cooperation. Overall, their dialogue reflects a proactive approach to addressing shared concerns and fostering stability in the bilateral relationship.

FAQs

  1. What were the main topics discussed by Biden and Xi?

Ans:    They discussed Taiwan, artificial intelligence (AI), and fentanyl.

  1. Why did Biden and Xi hold these discussions?

Ans:    They aimed to resume regular leadership talks between their nations.

  1. What significance does Taiwan hold in these talks?

Ans:    Taiwan’s status and security were crucial points of discussion.

  1. Why is AI a topic of concern for both leaders?

Ans:    Both leaders addressed the promises and threats posed by new AI technologies.

  1. What is the relevance of fentanyl in the talks?

Ans:    Combatting the flow of fentanyl and its derivatives was part of the agenda.

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