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Commendable Efforts To Avert A Second Cold War

A positive G20 meeting for the U.S.-China relationship

President Biden meets with Chinese President Xi Jinping ahead of G20 summit, Screenshot

Probably the most important meeting of the G20 Summit took place before the high-profile conference itself was inaugurated.

President Biden held what was perhaps the most crucial international engagement of his tenure at Bali, Indonesia, on the sidelines of the multilateral summit. POTUS met his Chinese counterpart, President Xi Jinping, face-to-face for the first time after becoming the U.S. Commander-in-Chief and the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic.

President Xi, basking in his unprecedented third term, was expected to hold his ground and reiterate Beijing's aggressive positions. While he did as expected, President Biden, bolstered by the unexpected good outing at the midterms, stated American positions and did not hesitate to raise thorny issues.

The President managed to undo much of the damage caused by the uncalled-for visit of the House Speaker to Taiwan a few months back. That he did so without making another faux pas or uttering a gaffe has undoubtedly brought much relief to the White House.

The President reiterated America's acceptance of the "One China" policy. He gave no inch stating that unilateral changes to the status quo would not be welcome and that "the world has an interest in the maintenance of peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait." China's official Xinhua News Agency quoted President Xi saying that Taiwan was a core issue and "the first red line that must not be crossed in China-U.S. relations."

Though the Chinese news agency did not report their leader's stance on the nuclear issue, both leaders agreed that a nuclear war must be averted at all costs. President Xi's (speculated) influence over North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un could be leveraged to rein in Pyongyang's nuclear tests. Thawing U.S.-China relations could also lend steam to international efforts to deter Russia from continuing the Ukraine war.

After the meeting, the most heartening sentiment for the world at large came from President Biden. "I'm looking to manage this competition responsibly," he said. Despite fundamental differences and divergent ideologies, it is preferable that economic competition does not spill over to conflict. Even as the U.S. is taking significant steps to thwart Chinese aggression and military build-up, the effort to avert a second Cold War, and a consequential arms race, bodes well for the world reeling under the fallout of the war in Europe.

It is doubtful that President Biden's criticism of Beijing's human rights record and suppression of civil liberties will yield any response other than sharp retorts of "Chinese-style democracy" and such. Yet, the thawing of the relations does raise cautious optimism for the two powers to address critical issues such as food security and bilateral law-enforcement cooperation.

As seasoned politicians, the Presidents understand the value of diplomacy and dialogue. Even as the world power pursues channels of communication and future diplomatic efforts, America is pushing back Beijing's aggression by shoring up its allies and forming new alliances. Yet, it is vital for world peace that the two leaders avoid misunderstandings, as President Biden said, and continue to explore avenues of cooperation and peaceful co-existence.

While no list of promises or resolutions was announced at the end of the three-hour meeting, opening up and oiling diplomatic channels and resumption of communication between the two nations is in itself a commendable achievement.

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