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Sullivan Gives Extensive Readout of Xi-Biden Summit

Nov. 17, 2021 (EIRNS)—National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan gave a more extensive readout of the Nov. 15 virtual summit between Presidents Xi Jinping and Joe Biden to a few members of the Brookings Institution, which Brookings has posted online.

The summit was a “more intense and more engaged session” than the previous phone calls between the two leaders, he said. The personal relationship was very cordial, with Xi calling Biden “an old friend.” (Biden, perhaps in order to avoid flak from opponents, had said earlier to the media that they weren’t “friends.”) Nevertheless, both would refer in the conversation to things that they had said in previous conversations to make a positive point, or to counter something that the other had said. Biden reiterated his support for the “One China” policy and said that the U.S. does not support the independence of Taiwan. He also said that if the status of Taiwan were to be changed by force, this would cause a serious reaction from the U.S. Biden said that his greatest concern was “unintended consequences” of abrupt actions and that he wanted to create “guardrails” in the relationship.

The two agreed to work together on climate, as well as on global health and counternarcotics. Biden reiterated that the U.S. would continue to “stand up for our values” in the international arena. Sullivan said that there were four “buckets” on which the two intended to collaborate. The first was climate and public health. Although Biden stated that the question of the origin of the coronavirus was still unresolved, he affirmed that China and the U.S. would have to work together in dealing with the pandemic. Secondly, they would have to create cooperation on the issue of the Iranian nuclear program, as well as the North Korean program. Thirdly, the two sides had to work to create a mechanism for managing their differences, in security and other areas. They agreed that there should be an intensification of communication between the two sides on a variety of levels. And fourthly, there would be work on cooperating on the issue of trade and the economy, including “dealing with the global energy crunch to push the economy forward.”

Sullivan underlined that the 3.5-hour discussion was very free-wheeling and open, not scripted, and not simply a give-and-take discussion. He said there was also no “cutting corners” in the issues discussed. Sullivan also said the two sides also discussed the issue of strategic stability and that they agreed to have “sets of conversations” regarding the nuclear issue. Sullivan said that this was not the same as the Russian discussions where they are seeking a formal set of agreements on arms limitation. While China has been building its nuclear arsenal, they are far below the nuclear arsenal of the U.S. and have therefore refused to participate in arms limitations talks. Now there is agreement to discuss the issue in general terms without attempting some formal set of agreements.

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