President Biden, Xi agree to look at possible arms control talks

President Biden, Xi agree to look at possible arms control talks


United States President Joe Biden and Chinese Communist Party (CCP) General Secretary Xi Jinping agreed at a mid-November 2021 virtual meeting to consider arms control talks, U.S. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said.

President Biden and Xi agreed to “look to begin to carry forward discussion on strategic stability,” Sullivan said, referring to U.S. concerns about the CCP’s nuclear and missile buildup. “You will see at multiple levels an intensification of the engagement to ensure that there are guardrails around this competition so that it doesn’t veer off into conflict,” Sullivan said in a Brookings Institution webinar.

Sullivan did not elaborate on the possible form of strategic stability discussions but said: “That is not the same as what we have in the Russian context with the formal strategic stability dialogue. That is far more mature, has a much deeper history to it. There’s less maturity to that in the U.S.-China relationship, but the two leaders did discuss these issues, and it is now incumbent on us to think about the most productive way to carry it forward.”

The U.S. has repeatedly urged China to join it and Russia in a new arms control treaty.

Beijing says its arsenal is dwarfed by those of Russia and the U.S. It says it is ready to conduct bilateral talks on strategic security “on the basis of equality and mutual respect.” The more than three-hour meeting was the two leaders’ most in-depth exchange since President Biden took office in January 2021.

The U.S. had envisioned the meeting as helping to stabilize a relationship increasingly troubled over a litany of issues, including Beijing’s aggressive actions toward Chinese-claimed Taiwan.

Asked whether there was progress on tensions over the self-ruled island, President Biden said: “Yes. We made very clear we support the Taiwan act and that’s it.

President Biden was referring to the Taiwan Relations Act, a U.S. law that requires the U.S. to provide Taiwan with the means to defend itself, though Washington has long followed a policy of “strategic ambiguity” on whether it would intervene militarily in the event of a Chinese attack.

“I said that they have to decide … Taiwan, not us,” President Biden added. “We are not encouraging independence.”

Xi told President Biden that China would take “decisive measures” should Taiwan cross Beijing’s red line in seeking independence.

Sullivan said the leaders discussed a range of global economic issues, including how the two nations can work together to ensure world energy supply and price volatility do not imperil the economic recovery.

President Biden also pressed Xi on human rights. (Pictured: A screen at a restaurant in Beijing shows United States President Joe Biden, left, and Chinese Communist Party General Secretary Xi Jinping during their virtual meeting in mid-November 2021.)

U.S. and Chinese officials also said that agreement was reached on easing restrictions on access for journalists from each other’s nation.