习近平会见德国总理朔尔茨
习近平会见德国总理朔尔茨
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Xi-Biden call: Keep communications open

Source: CGTN | 2024-04-03
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Xi-Biden call: Keep communications open

Editor's note: CGTN's First Voice provides instant commentary on breaking stories. The column clarifies emerging issues and better defines the news agenda, offering a Chinese perspective on the latest global events.

Chinese President Xi Jinping and his U.S. counterpart Joe Biden had a candid and in-depth exchange of views on Beijing-Washington relations and matters of mutual interest in a phone conversation this week.

As Xi emphasized, the issue of strategic perception is fundamental to the bilateral relationship, just like the first button of a shirt that must be put on right.

From a potential "responsible stakeholder" to a "strategic competitor," the U.S. government's strategic perception of China has changed dramatically over the past years, according to the Brookings Institution. For American politicians, China, with its growing weight and impacts, is increasingly becoming a "threat" to the U.S.'s status.

As a result of its changing strategic perception of Beijing, Washington is gradually shifting its policy of active engagements to aggressive containment of the country. Economically, the U.S. government has adopted a string of measures to suppress China's technology and trade growth, with an increasing number of Chinese entities appearing on sanction lists. Militarily, the Pentagon, to deter the "strategic competitor" from threatening its might in the region, has intensified provocations in the South China Sea, the Taiwan Straits and other areas. Diplomatically, the White House has ratcheted up efforts to woo allies into its anti-Beijing bloc.

These moves – a direct result of the dynamics of China-U.S. strategic competition – have tremendously raised the risk of confrontation between the world's largest two economies. Strained ties, in return, have further prompted American politicians to cultivate an anti-China strategic perception. The China-U.S. relationship – which Biden described as "the most consequential relationship in the world" – has thus become trapped in a downward spiral.

Against this backdrop, straightforward and open bilateral talks at different levels are vital in reducing the risks of miscalculations and misunderstandings, determining the boundaries of China-U.S. strategic competition, and thus preventing the world's most consequential relationship from derailing.

Chinese President Xi Jinping meets with representatives from American business, strategic and academic communities at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, capital of China, March 27, 2024. [Photo/Xinhua]

"Two big countries like China and the United States should not cut off their ties or turn their back on each other, still less slide into conflict or confrontation," Xi emphasized on the phone with Biden.

The significance of strengthening dialogue and communication is a consensus between Beijing and Washington. "We believe that there is no substitute for regular communication at the leader level to effectively manage this complex and often tense bilateral relationship," U.S. National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby said after the Xi-Biden call.

Admittedly, with the clock ticking towards the 2024 general election, some American politicians are racing to play the China card by talking and acting tough on the country – a routine practice during election years to divert public attention from domestic problems and thus woo more voters. But no American politician with a basic knowledge of politics is willing to afford the consequences of cutting off the communication channels between the world's two largest economies.

Amid harsh China policies, the Biden administration has not given up efforts in keeping regular lines of communication open. In the phone call with Xi, Biden announced sending high-level American officials to visit China shortly to strengthen dialogue, avoid miscalculation and promote cooperation.

This demonstrates that despite differences, both Beijing and Washington have the will to promote open and constructive communications under the San Francisco vision. Over the past months, both countries proved their determination and capability of advancing cooperation while responsibly managing disputes. Now, with negative factors of the relationship growing, communication has turned out to be even more significant in understanding each other's strategic intentions and correct misled strategic perceptions on the other.

To improve and stabilize the China-U.S. relationship, talk first. Putting words into concrete actions is the next vital step.

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