On November 14, 2022 local time, President Xi Jinping had a meeting with U.S. President Joe Biden in Bali, Indonesia. After the meeting, State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi briefed the media on the meeting and answered questions.
Question one: President Xi Jinping has just held a meeting with U.S. President Joe Biden. The meeting has been closely watched by the international community. Could you brief us on how the meeting went?
Wang Yi: President Xi Jinping and President Joe Biden had a face-to-face meeting in Bali this afternoon, as proposed by the U.S. side. The two heads of state had candid, in-depth, constructive and strategic discussions on major issues concerning China-U.S. relations and the prospects for world peace and development. The Chinese side has issued a press release on the meeting. I’d like to further share the following with you.
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First, the meeting is very important. It features three “firsts” for the two leaders — their first face-to-face meeting over the past three years, their first face-to-face summit since President Biden took office, and their first interaction after China and the United States completed their respective major domestic agendas this year.
Second, the communication is very profound. The two leaders have known each other for many years, and they have had long and in-depth discussions during all their phone calls and video conferences. The Bali meeting is not only a continuation of their past exchanges, but also the signal of a new starting point. The meeting lasted more than three hours even with simultaneous interpretation, longer than previously scheduled. The exchanges are comprehensive, profound, and candid, as well as constructive and of strategic importance.
Third, meeting is rich in content. The two presidents discussed five topics, namely, their respective domestic and foreign policies, China-U.S. relations, the Taiwan question, dialogue and cooperation in various fields, and major international and regional issues. That virtually covered the most important aspects of the bilateral relations and the most pressing regional and global issues at the moment.
Fourth, the meeting provides guidance for the future. Head-of-state diplomacy is the compass and anchor of China-U.S. relations, and it plays an irreplaceable strategic role in guiding the growth of the relationship. At present, China-U.S. relations are facing serious difficulties and are at a critical crossroads regarding where to go from here. During their meeting, the two presidents played the leadership role to set the relationship on the right course and also laid out plans to this end.
President Xi Jinping briefed President Biden on the key outcomes and the important significance of the 20th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC). He stressed that the domestic and foreign policies of the CPC and the Chinese government are open and transparent, with clearly stated and transparent strategic intentions and great continuity and stability. President Xi Jinping said that China-U.S. relations should not be a zero-sum game where one side out-competes or thrives at the expense of the other, and that the world in the 21st century must avoid repeating the mistake of the Cold War. The two sides should form a correct perception of each other’s domestic and foreign policies and strategic intentions. China-U.S. interactions should be defined by dialogue and win-win cooperation, not confrontation or zero-sum competition. President Biden briefed President Xi Jinping on the U.S. midterm elections, and stated that the United States respects China’s system, it does not seek a new Cold War, it does not seek to revitalize alliances against China, and that it has no intention to have a conflict with China or to contain China.
The two presidents highlighted the global significance of China-U.S. relations. Both stressed the importance of working out the guiding principles for China-U.S. relations. Both expressed the hope to put bilateral relations back on a steady and upward trajectory. They agreed to strengthen communication and exchanges, and advance practical cooperation. This has charted the course ahead for China-U.S. relations, and will help bring bilateral relations back to the right track of sound and steady development.
Question two: All parties are following closely where China-U.S. relations are headed. Will the Bali summit meeting help stabilize the relationship or, as the U.S. side put it, “build a floor” for the relationship?
Wang Yi: This meeting will not only provide important, practical guidance for China-U.S. relations at the current stage, but will also have a major and far-reaching impact on the relationship in the next stage and even beyond.
First, the meeting identified a clear direction, that is, to prevent China-U.S. relations from getting derailed or out of control, and to find the right way for the two major countries to get along with each other. President Xi Jinping pointed out that the current state of China-U.S. relations is not in the fundamental interests of the two countries and peoples, and is not what the international community expects. China and the United States need to have a sense of responsibility for history, for the world and for the people, to ensure that their relations move forward on the right course without losing direction or speed, still less having a collision. President Biden said that a stable and prosperous China is good for the United States and the world. The United States and China have a shared responsibility to show the world that they can manage their differences, and avoid misperceptions or fierce competition from veering into confrontation or conflict.
Second, the meeting established a framework, i.e., jointly working out the guiding principles, or a strategic framework, for China-U.S. relations. President Xi Jinping said that it would be problematic if two major countries like China and the United States do not have overarching principled common understandings. Only with principles can there be a direction, and only with a direction can the two sides properly handle differences and expand cooperation. It is exactly out of this consideration that the Chinese side proposed that China and the United States should respect each other, coexist in peace and pursue win-win cooperation. President Biden has reiterated his “five noes” (i.e., not seek a new Cold War; not seek to change China’s system; the revitalization of its alliances is not against China; not support “Taiwan independence”; not look for conflict with China) and other important statements on multiple occasions. The two presidents agreed on the importance of working out the guiding principles China-U.S. relations, and further explored the topic with constructive discussions. They instructed their work teams to follow this up with consultations and strive for agreement as soon as possible on the basis of the common understandings already in place.
Third, the meeting kicked off a process, i.e., implementing the important common understandings reached by the two heads of state to manage and stabilize China-U.S. relations. Heads-of-state diplomacy is the highest form of diplomacy. The strategic guidance of the Bali summit for bilateral relations is reflected in many aspects, including not only the important preparations for the Bali meeting but also the follow-ups afterwards. Managing and stabilizing China-U.S. relations is an ongoing process to which there’s no end. In accordance with the priorities identified by the two heads of state, the two teams will maintain dialogue and communication, manage tensions and differences, and advance exchanges and cooperation, so as to add positive energy and a safety valve to China-U.S. relations, and bring about stability and certainty to this turbulent and changing world.
It must be pointed out that China has its own principles and red lines that it has long upheld, and has legitimate and lawful interests that must be firmly protected. China will not yield to any acts of hegemonism or bullying. The U.S. side should earnestly translate President Biden’s positive statements into concrete policies and actions, stop containing and suppressing China, stop interfering in China’s internal affairs, and stop undermining China’s sovereignty, security and development interests. The U.S. should work with China in the same direction to build pillars for the sound and steady development of China-U.S. relations and jointly cement a strong “floor” for the steady and sustained growth of the relationship.
Question three: The Taiwan question was definitely a focus of this meeting. Can you brief us on the conversation between the two leaders on the Taiwan question?
Wang Yi: Taiwan is part of China, and the Taiwan question is China’s internal affair. The reason why China and the United States had to discuss the Taiwan question was because the United States interfered in China’s internal affairs. What we ask from the United States is very clear — stop interfering in China’s internal affairs and respect China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.
During the Bali meeting, President Xi Jinping shared with President Biden the history of Taiwan being colonized and invaded by external forces in the past several hundred years. He stressed that the very purpose of China’s opposition to “Taiwan independence” and its efforts to protect territorial integrity is to guard and look after the land that has always belonged to China throughout the generations. Anyone that seeks to split Taiwan from China will be violating the fundamental interests of the Chinese nation. The Chinese people will absolutely not accept this. They will be united as one to fight such attempt.
President Xi pointed out that China will stay committed to the basic policies of peaceful reunification and One Country, Two Systems, and will strive for peaceful reunification with the greatest sincerity and the utmost effort. However, should the three types of serious events that are stipulated in the Anti-Secession Law take place, China will surely act in accordance with the Law. China hopes for peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait more than anyone else in the world, but cross-Strait peace and stability and “Taiwan independence” are as irreconcilable as water and fire. For the Taiwan Strait to remain peaceful and stable, there should be staunch opposition to and efforts to curb “Taiwan independence”.
President Xi stressed that the Taiwan question is “the core of the core interests of China”, the bedrock of the political foundation of China-U.S. relations, and the red line that the United States must not and should not cross in China-U.S. relations. China urges the U.S. side to match its words with action, abide by the one-China policy and the three China-U.S. joint communiqués, fulfill its commitment of “not supporting ‘Taiwan independence'”, stop fudging and hollowing out the one-China policy, restrain and stop “Taiwan independence” separatist rhetorics and activities, and prevent the situation from moving to a point of no return.
President Biden said that the U.S. government is committed to the one-China policy, and that the U.S. does not support “Taiwan independence”, does not support “two Chinas” or “one China, one Taiwan”, and does not seek to use the Taiwan question as a tool to contain China.
Question four: China and the United States are permanent members of the UN Security Council. The whole international community hopes that China and the United States will work together to address various global challenges. What progress has China and the United States made in bilateral and multilateral cooperation?
Wang Yi: The history of China-U.S. relations shows that China and the United States both stand to gain from cooperation and lose from confrontation. Against the backdrop of a swirling combination of a global pandemic and major changes, both unseen in a century, as well as unprecedented challenges facing human society, China and the United States, as two major countries, must strengthen cooperation in bilateral and multilateral areas and work with other countries to overcome difficulties. This not only serves the interests of China and the United States, but also meets the common expectation of the international community.
During the meeting, President Xi Jinping said that China-U.S. cooperation is good for both countries and the world. There are differences between China and the United States, but they should not become an obstacle to growing China-U.S. relations. Instead they should serve as a driving force for exchanges and cooperation. Cooperation requires a good atmosphere and stable relations. It is not one side drawing up a laundry list of demands to the other side. It is about accommodating each other’s concerns, and should be a process of give-and-take. No matter what the state China-U.S. relations are in, the two countries must not be less willing to fulfill their responsibilities as major countries in international affairs.
President Xi Jinping pointed out that China and the United States should work together to make the list of cooperation longer rather than shorter. The two presidents agreed that their teams may continue dialogue on macroeconomic policies, and economic and trade ties, and the two countries will jointly work for the positive results of the 27th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. The two sides will work together on the implementation of the two cooperation documents in the fields of public health and agriculture, encourage and support China-U.S. people-to-people exchanges, and expand such exchanges in all sectors. The two sides will continue to carry out consultations of the China-U.S. joint working group to resolve more specific issues.
Facts have proven time and again that the entire China-U.S. relations cannot be simply defined by competition. Cooperation will always remain the best option for China and the United States. China-U.S. cooperation benefits all parties and opens up a win-win future for both China and the United States and for the whole world.
Question five: What other important issues of common concern did the two sides exchange views on?
Wang Yi: President Xi Jinping made clear China’s position and attitude on some major issues of interest to the United States and the international community.
On democracy and human rights, President Xi Jinping noted that freedom, democracy and human rights are the common pursuit of humanity and also the unwavering pursuit of the CPC. Just as the United States has American-style democracy, China has Chinese-style democracy; both fit their respective national conditions. The whole-process people’s democracy practiced in China is based on the country’s reality, history and culture, and it reflects people’s will. The specific differences between the two sides can be worked out through discussion, but only on the precondition of equality. To define one’s own country as democratic and other countries as authoritarian is in itself undemocratic. The so-called “democracy vs. authoritarianism” narrative is a false one. It is not the defining feature of today’s world, still less does it represent the trend of the times.
On social systems and paths, President Xi Jinping pointed out that the two countries take different paths; while the United States practices capitalism, China practices socialism. Such difference has existed since Day One of China-U.S. engagement and will continue to exist. For China and the United States to get along, it is vital to recognize and respect such difference. The leadership of the CPC and China’s socialist system have the support of 1.4 billion people. They are the fundamental guarantee for China’s development and stability. Attempting to subvert the leadership of the CPC and China’s socialist system would mean stepping on the bottom line and crossing the red line, which will undermine the foundation of bilateral relations.
On economic ties and trade, President Xi Jinping noted that China-U.S. economic and trade relations benefit both sides. Waging a trade war or a technology war, building walls and barriers, and pushing for decoupling and severing supply chains run counter to the principles of market economy, and undermine international trade rules. Such attempts serve no one’s interests. China will unswervingly pursue reform and opening-up, and rely on our own to promote development and progress of the country. The Chinese nation has the proud tradition of standing up for itself. Any suppression and containment will only strengthen the will and boost the morale of the Chinese people. If the United States decides to go further down on the doomed path of decoupling, it will ultimately backfire on the U.S. itself.
Question six: The international community is paying close attention to the Ukraine crisis and the issues on the Korean Peninsula. How did the two sides interact on these issues?
Wang Yi: The two presidents had an in-depth exchange of views on international and regional issues, including the Ukraine issue and the Korean nuclear issue.
On the Ukraine issue, President Xi reiterated the four points about what must be done and the four things the international community must do together in response to the situation in Ukraine. He stressed that the pressing priority is to seek a peaceful settlement of the Ukraine crisis through dialogue and negotiation. The use of nuclear weapons must be rejected, and nuclear war must never be fought. The world needs to prevent a nuclear crisis on the Eurasian continent. Joint efforts should also be made to ensure the stability of the global industrial and supply chains to avoid an even larger humanitarian crisis. China has all along stood on the side of peace and will continue to encourage peace talks.
On the Korean nuclear issue, President Xi Jinping elaborated on China’s set position, and stressed the need for the parties to face up to the crux of the issues on the Korean Peninsula and resolve each other’s concerns in a balanced manner, especially the legitimate concerns of the DPRK.
Question seven: You just talked about the significance of this meeting and the common understandings reached. What are the follow-up arrangements between the two sides?
Wang Yi: During this meeting, the two presidents agreed to maintain regular contact. They also instructed their diplomatic and national security teams to continue strategic communication to follow up on the major issues the two leaders discussed and implement the important common understandings reached between them.
The U.S. side said that Secretary of State Antony Blinken hopes to visit China at an early date to follow up on the subsequent work of the meeting. China welcomes this. The financial, economic and trade teams of the two countries will also conduct communication and coordination on macroeconomic policies, and China-U.S. economic and trade relations, among other issues.
To sum up, the Bali meeting has achieved the intended purpose of having in-depth communication, clarifying intentions, making clear where the red lines are, preventing conflicts, setting the direction and exploring cooperation.