Under global gaze, Chinese President Xi Jinping and his U.S. counterpart, Joe Biden, had on Monday a candid and in-depth exchange of views on a wide range of issues concerning bilateral ties and global priorities in their meeting ahead of the Group of 20 summit in Indonesia's resort island of Bali.
The high-profile talks came at a time when the China-U.S. relationship has arrived at a critical juncture. The past years have seen bilateral relations at a low ebb since the establishment of diplomatic ties: the reality of their interdependence has been ignored; the successful practice of bilateral win-win cooperation misrepresented; and channels of dialogue and communication blocked. For such setbacks Washington should take the blame.
The Bali meeting, the first vis-a-vis sit-down between the two heads of state since Biden assumed the U.S. presidency, has provided an important opportunity for the two sides to jointly steer the deeply-troubled bilateral relationship out of the current predicament.
History is the best textbook. The past 50 years of exchanges between China and the United States have testified to the fact that the two gain from cooperation and lose from confrontation. And the world as a whole has largely profited from stable and healthy China-U.S. ties.
Take bilateral trade, which has brought immense benefits to both sides over the decades. Even under the mixed impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and additional U.S. tariffs on Chinese exports, two-way trade topped 750 billion U.S. dollars in 2021, and two-way investment reached 240 billion dollars. That speaks volumes for the resilience of bilateral economic and trade cooperation.
On the world stage, the two countries have once joined hands to push for the ratification of the Paris climate deal, worked together in the aftermath of the 2008 global financial tsunami, and jointly tackled the Ebola outbreak in West Africa.
Today, China and the United States share more, not less, common interests. And their relationship is of even greater significance for the world. Global recovery from the pandemic-induced recession can hardly be achieved without the synergy between the world's top two economies. Safeguarding a peaceful and healthy planet for future generations also requires joint efforts from the two.
However, as Xi told Biden at Monday's meeting, 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, explore the right way to get along with each other in the new era, put the relationship on the right course, and bring it back to the track of healthy and stable growth to the benefit of the two countries and the world as a whole, Xi said.
To this end, Washington should join Beijing in moving towards the same direction.
For starters, Washington must bear in mind that the one-China principle is non-negotiable. The Taiwan question is at the heart of China's core interests. Washington has promised to follow the one-China policy, yet it has repeatedly and purposely challenged Beijing's first red line. Its dangerous provocations are eroding the bedrock of the political foundation of bilateral ties.
Resolving the Taiwan question is a matter for the Chinese and China's internal affair. The U.S. side must match its words with action, stop playing the Taiwan card and making further provocations, and abide by the one-China policy and the three China-U.S. joint communiques.
Besides, the United States must respect China's development path. These days a group of China hawks in the United States have been framing a false narrative of "democracy versus authoritarianism." They scheme to stir up ideological confrontation between the two countries and hostilities between the two peoples.
There is always competition in the world, but competition should be about learning from each other to become one's better self and make progress together, not about taking others down in a zero-sum game. Thus it is imperative for Washington to recognize and respect differences between the two countries, and do not let such differences become an obstacle to growing China-U.S. relations.
Moreover, Washington should drop its misconceptions about China's development. China-U.S. relations should not be a zero-sum game where one side out-competes or thrives at the expense of the other. Also, China's advancement or American's progress stands to present opportunities, rather than pose challenges, for each other.
Just as Xi urged at the meeting, the two sides should respect each other, coexist in peace, pursue win-win cooperation, and work together to ensure that China-U.S. relations move forward on the right course without losing direction or speed, still less having a collision.
It is also hoped that Washington will honor its commitments with concrete action instead of talking in one way and acting in another, work with Beijing to promptly follow up and implement the important common understandings reached during the meeting, maintain dialogue and communication, manage differences and disagreements, and promote exchanges and cooperation, so as to bring bilateral relations back on the track of healthy and stable growth to the benefit of the two countries and the world as a whole.