Harris meets briefly with Xi, calls for US-China communication

Harris meets briefly with Xi, calls for US-China communication


US Vice President Kamala Harris called for open communications with China during a brief meeting with President Xi Jinping on Saturday, days after he held detailed talks with President Joe Biden.

Harris was speaking with the Chinese leader as they attended a retreat during a summit of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Forum in Bangkok, a White House official said.

The vice president reiterated Biden’s message that “we must maintain open lines of communication to responsibly manage competition between our countries,” the official said on condition of anonymity.

The meeting came after the United States said China wanted to do more to contain its ally North Korea, which on Friday tested a ballistic missile that US and Japanese officials said could be capable of to hit the US mainland.

Xi, on only his second trip abroad since the pandemic, has met extensively with foreign leaders both in Bangkok and at a Group of 20 summit in Bali earlier this week.

On Monday, Xi met with Biden for three hours at a hotel on the Indonesian resort island, the first face-to-face meeting between the leaders of the world’s two largest economies since they both became president.

Both sides gave the meeting a positive note, saying they hope to prevent recent tensions from spiraling out of control and want to work together on areas such as climate change.

The Biden-Xi summit and brief meeting with Harris comes ahead of a planned visit by Secretary of State Antony Blinken to China early next year, the first by the top US diplomat since 2018.

Harris also held crisis talks on Friday about the recent Pyongyang launch with the prime ministers of five U.S. partners — Japan, South Korea, Australia, Canada and New Zealand — in a strong condemnation of North Korea.

“We believe Beijing has a role to play,” another senior US official accompanying Harris said Friday.

China should use its influence to persuade North Korea “not to go in this provocative direction that will only destabilize the region and the world,” the official said.

Tensions between the United States and China have increased, particularly over Taiwan, the self-governing democracy claimed by Beijing.

China held major military exercises in August, seen as a dry run for an invasion, after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, second only to the White House, visited Taiwan in solidarity.

Xi told Biden that support for Taiwan is a red line. Biden later told reporters that the two leaders understood each other’s positions and that he did not anticipate an “imminent” invasion of Taiwan.

The United States has also urged China to limit aid to Russia in its invasion of Ukraine, with US officials cautiously optimistic Beijing has not sent any military supplies.

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