Written by Staff Writer, CNN
When U.S. Vice President Joe Biden came to China to meet President Xi Jinping, the Chinese leader had already expressed frustration with the U.S. to its nuclear negotiator, Mike Pompeo, telling him in a recent meeting that he hoped the U.S. would lead a return to a new world order.
But it looks like Xi has already won back the top table of world politics after Democrats in Washington decided not to run against Biden for president — opening up a potential ticket for a Barack Obama-like Democrat and a new chapter in America’s global power.
The meeting on Tuesday night between Biden and Xi at Beijing’s Diaoyutai State Guesthouse confirmed a tepid U.S.-China relationship after a decade of economic openness and growing ties between the world’s two largest economies, but with little end in sight to the current trade war.
Speaking to CNN at Beijing airport before the arrival of his plane, Biden said he’s continuing to be an envoy to the countries around the world.
“I’m in the diplomacy business. I haven’t changed. I still believe, contrary to what’s been said, the United States of America can be engaged in this important global conversation,” he said.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, left, meets with Chinese State Councilor Yang Jiechi and Vice President Xi Jinping at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse on April 24, 2018. Luke MacGregor/AFP/Getty Images
It is this bipartisan approach which Beijing is hoping will increase pressure on the Trump administration to stop talks about imposing tariffs which it sees as being a threat to stability.
“At the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse, Vice President Biden and I discussed our respective countries’ shared interests and the ongoing cooperation between China and the United States,” Xi said in a statement at the start of the meeting.
“China and the United States have a special role to play in providing the basic conditions for the world to regain the peace and stability of globalisation,” he said.
‘Deal through noise’
Describing it as the “thaw after months of frostiness” between the countries, Biden described the visit as “very productive,” in an interview with CNN
“We talked about a whole range of issues, including the climate and how China can use its lead in that area to be a constructive and helpful force in the global environment,” he said.
Vice President Joe Biden pauses as he speaks at the Emily Kaufman School of Law on October 16, 2018 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. MANDEL NGAN/Getty Images
“Particularly in ways that can reduce the risks of conflict and enhance the stability of the system, which is hugely important to the health of China and the world.
“I think it’s appropriate to act on what we’ve been talking about, but in a very systematic and patient way, while we protect our interests and are prepared to walk away, that’s how we deal with issues that aren’t primarily of our making.”
Xi earlier said Biden had a long-standing desire to visit China and that “over two decades ago, we were both young men.”
“The United States and China are partners in the interest of the world, not rivals,” he said.
“We have complementary roles to play and we also need to resolve our differences in a constructive manner, not act like irresponsible rivals that are prone to destroy the balance of power in the world.”
Biden welcomed this.
“President Xi and I agreed that we should pursue high-level dialogue, cooperation and partnership,” he said.
“There is a lot of potential for other forms of co-operation, not least within the Asia-Pacific and even within the G20 as a whole.”
‘Room for improvement’
While there were brief, positive and common interests being held up, neither leader appeared to have achieved breakthroughs on their other topics of discussion.
That’s because it looks like Xi has already won back the top table of world politics in China and elsewhere.
Xi pledged to “deepen the healthy development of China-U.S. strategic partnership” in a speech on Tuesday to the opening session of the NPC.
“U.S.-China ties are at the heart of the world’s rejuvenation,” he said.
“China and the United States also have the right to seize the direction, make the best of the opportunities and make the most of our potential.
“Because China and the United States share common interests and complement each other, we have the chance to create a new international order and champion the cause of globalization.”
Biden similarly spoke of “building trust.”