| 14 July 2024, Sunday |

Biden holds highest-level talks with Chinese leadership in months

On Sunday, US President Joe Biden claimed he had his highest-level meetings with Chinese leaders in months, stressing that Beijing’s economic woes will not lead to an invasion of Taiwan.

At the annual G20 conference in New Delhi, Biden claimed he met with Chinese President Xi Jinping’s No.2, Chinese Premier Li Qiang. The meetings were the highest level interaction between the two countries in about ten months, when Biden and Xi chatted at the G20 in Indonesia last year.

In lieu of Xi, Chinese Premier Li Qiang, who took over as the country’s No. 2 in March, attended the meeting of world leaders. Although the two presidents were not supposed to meet at the G20, unexpected meetings at summits are regular.

“My team, my staff still meets with President Xi’s people and his cabinet,” Biden told reporters. “I met with his No.2 person in India today.”

He added: “We talked about stability,” and the Southern Hemisphere. “It wasn’t confrontational at all.”

The two super powers have been trying to thaw frosty relations this year after a spat over a suspected Chinese spy balloon that flew over U.S. territory, while fears of an economic slowdown have gripped Beijing.

Speaking at a press conference in Vietnam, Biden touted the U.S. economy as the “strongest” globally. He told reporters that China’s growth was slowing due to a weak global economy as well as Chinese policies, but did not specify which policies.

Biden called China’s economic situation a “crisis,” citing issues in the real estate sector and high youth unemployment. “One of the major economic tenets of his plan isn’t working at all right now,” Biden said of Xi, without elaborating. “I’m not happy for that, but it’s not working.”

Biden added: “He has his hands full right now.”

The 80-year-old Democrat is headed into a 2024 presidential re-election campaign where his own handling of the economy and inflation has become a central concern for voters.

The U.S. economy grew at a 2.1% annualised rate last quarter. Central bankers have sharply raised interest rates to bring inflation back down to target levels.

August trade data showed China’s exports and imports both narrowing their declines, joining other indicators showing a possible stabilisation in the economic downturn, as policymakers seek to spur demand and fend off deflation.

Li has said China should achieve its 2023 growth target of around 5%, but some analysts think a worsening property slump, weak consumer spending and tumbling credit growth could mean lower growth.

  • Reuters