President Joe Biden greets China’s President Xi Jinping at the Filoli Estate in Woodside, California.CREDIT:AP

US, China silence ‘not an option,’ Xi Jinping tells Joe Biden

Farrah Tomazin |

San Francisco: Chinese President Xi Jinping has used a high-stakes meeting with his US counterpart Joe Biden to warn that conflict between their two countries would have “unbearable consequences” and that turning their backs on one another is “not an option”.

After years of escalating tensions, the leaders of the world’s two biggest economies met on the sidelines of the APEC summit in San Francisco on Wednesday (local time) in a bid to stabilise their relationship and find common ground on issues such as fentanyl, climate change and artificial intelligence.

Greeting Xi on a secluded estate about 45 kilometres from the downtown district where world leaders had gathered – including Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese – Biden told his Chinese counterpart that they had a responsibility to work together to ensure that their competition “does not veer into conflict”.

“I value our conversation because I think it’s paramount that you and I understand each other clearly – leader to leader – with no misconceptions or miscommunication,” Biden told him.

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Xi agreed, telling him through an interpreter: “The China-US relationship has never been smooth sailing over the past 50 years or more, and it always faces problems, one kind or another, yet it has kept moving forward amid twists and turns.

“For two large countries like China and the United States, turning their back on each other is not an option.” It is unrealistic for one side to seek to reshape the other, Xi said, with “conflict and confrontation” having “unbearable consequences for both sides”.

The highly anticipated meeting between the two presidents is the first time the pair have met face to face since the sidelines of the G20 summit in Bali about a year ago.

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