Xi and Harris Call for Open Channels at the Latest US-China Summit

During a brief meeting on Saturday, Xi Jinping and Kamala Harris advocated for open dialogue, just days after his meetings with Joe Biden to defuse tensions.

Harris and Xi met at an Asia-Pacific meeting in Bangkok where Russia was isolated, with no prominent leader present and a declaration condemning its conflict in Ukraine.

Harris told Xi at APEC that “we must keep open channels of communication to appropriately manage competition,” a White House official said.

Biden and Xi met for three hours at a Group of 20 meeting in Bali on Monday, their first in-person conversations as presidents.

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According to Chinese official media, Xi told Harris that his discussion with Biden was “strategic and fruitful.”

“I believe the two sides can improve mutual understanding, decrease misunderstandings and misjudgments, and reestablish China-US ties on a healthy and stable track,” said Xi, who is on just his second foreign trip since the epidemic.

US and Chinese officials have both placed a hopeful light on renewed engagement, but none has predicted a real resolution to problems separating them, including Taiwan, a self-governing democracy claimed by Beijing.

Xi and Biden agreed that Secretary of State Antony Blinken would visit China early next year.

Blinken told reporters in Bangkok that the contacts aimed to ensure competition “doesn’t veer into conflict” and examine areas of cooperation on global challenges like climate change.

The US wants China to do more to reign in its ally North Korea, which tested a ballistic missile Friday that could possibly target the US mainland.

A US diplomat travelling with Harris said China should encourage North Korea “not to proceed in this aggressive way.”

Russia’s Pressure

Xi might encounter Biden next year at the APEC summit in San Francisco if ties stay stable.

Xi last visited the U.S. in 2017, meeting then-president Donald Trump at his Florida estate. Trade, Taiwan, human rights, and COVID-19 later strained relations between the two countries.

APEC focuses on commerce, not politics. APEC followed the template of this week’s G20 meeting to discuss Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

“Most members strongly opposed the violence in Ukraine and highlighted that it is inflicting great human suffering,” an APEC joint statement read.

There were alternative viewpoints on the issue and punishments.

The US is cautiously optimistic about China’s distance from Russia, especially the fact that China won’t send military supplies to Russia.

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While embracing Xi, the US has sworn to snub Putin, who missed this week’s Asian summits and is unlikely to be invited to San Francisco.

Harris, who is from the San Francisco Bay Area, told leaders in Bangkok that the US will set higher goals for the environment in 2019.

She requested that leaders create additional objectives for the 2023 summit on decreasing power sector emissions to flesh out longer-term APEC pledges to zero out carbon.

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