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U.S., China Seek to Put Lid on Tensions

President Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping sought to cool down simmering hostilities between their two nations in a virtual meeting this week, according to The Wall Street Journal (subscription).

Broad signals: President Biden stressed the need for “commonsense guardrails” to “ensure that the competition between our countries does not veer into conflict, whether intended or unintended.”
A quick overview: The call did not achieve any major breakthroughs, officials said. While trade was not a major focus of the conversation, President Biden did make clear that he would protect the interests of American companies, including manufacturers:

  • President Biden “called on China during the meeting to fulfill its commitments” under the 2020 U.S.–China Phase One trade deal,” according to The Journal. “Mr. Biden said that he was clear with Mr. Xi about the need to protect American workers and industries from what the White House called China’s ‘unfair trade and economic practices,’ fulfilling U.S. business leaders’ hopes that Mr. Biden would address broader issues, including China’s industrial subsidies.”

Areas for cooperation?: In their three-and-a-half-hour conversation, Presidents Biden and Xi discussed other issues, including climate change, following last week’s U.S.–China joint declaration in Glasgow. Other topics included health security, energy and supply chains.

Around the world: “The White House said the two discussed a range of topics, including Afghanistan, North Korea and Iran, as well as human rights, climate change and concerns over Taiwan. The discussion didn’t produce any major resolutions, officials said. The White House had sought to manage expectations of the meeting in recent days.”

China’s comments: During the call, President Xi said, “China and the United States should respect each other, coexist in peace and pursue win–win cooperation. I stand ready to work with you, Mr. President, to build consensus, take active steps and move China–U.S. relations forward in a positive direction.”

The NAM’s take: “China remains a top priority for manufacturers, given its role as both a critical market and a global hub of problematic trade and economic policies that are harming manufacturers and workers in the United States,” said NAM Director of International Business Policy Ryan Ong.

  • “Manufacturers have long called for a comprehensive China strategy, and appreciate the administration’s efforts to raise these issues, including President Biden calling out ‘unfair trade and economic practices’ and pressing China to meet its commitments at the highest levels with President Xi.
  • “We look forward to working with the White House, the U.S. Trade Representative and others on trade policy and other efforts to strengthen manufacturers and workers in America and ensure their ability to compete on a level playing field here at home, in China and around the world.”
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