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Washington should act in accordance with welcome display of bonhomie: China Daily editorial | Updated: 2022-11-14 23:45
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The great attention the world has paid to the first in-person meeting between President Xi Jinping and US President Joe Biden since the latter took office in January 2021 speaks volumes of the great expectations the international community has for the high-stakes talks to break the spiral of tensions between the two countries.

It was widely hoped that the meeting between the two old acquaintances in Bali on Monday could help steer the two countries' relations onto a more cordial track, enabling the world to focus on addressing the many pressing global challenges.

That was also the common desire both leaders expressed during their meeting with the media and exchange of pleasantries before they commenced their official talks, which has prompted them to maintain communication through various channels since they last met in Davos, Switzerland, in 2017.

The two leaders displayed sincerity in agreeing that allowing bilateral ties to worsen would serve neither party's interests and the two countries need to find a way to get along.

Although that was a good basis on which to begin their official talks, which lasted three hours and 12 minutes, the fact remains that the amicability of their previous talks have not helped check the souring of the relations between the two countries, and it is the Biden administration that has continually said "we can get along" while acting to the contrary.

It has never ceased trying to shake the foundation of Sino-US ties in any way it can — blacklisting Chinese companies, fabricating allegations of human rights abuses by China and provoking Beijing on the Taiwan question, among others.

So both the "guardrails" and the "floor" — that a senior White House official was quoted as saying Biden wants to build to avoid relations going into free fall — are just virtual-reality safety measures unless the Biden administration gives them some substance by mending its ways to some degree.

As President Xi said in his opening remarks, a statesman needs not only to think of where to lead his country, but also how the country should get along with other countries and the world. The US political elite needs to stop viewing bilateral relations as zero-sum game and instead work with China to make them positive-sum. The bottom line is that the US by itself can make trouble for the world, but it cannot solve the global challenges, or even its self-made troubles by itself.

To what extent the two sides can make the most of what appears to have been an open and sincere exchange of views between the leaders to rebuild mutual trust will determine whether or not there will be a much-needed and desired upturn in relations between the world's two largest economies.

But with Biden saying coming into the meeting that "I know I'm coming in stronger" — after his party's performance in the midterm elections, the window of opportunity is likely to be short to get things moving in the right direction before old habits set in again. The longer Washington delays in adjusting its China policy, the higher the stakes will be in its competitive gamble.

The US side should bear in mind the theme of the G20 Bali Summit being held on Tuesday and Wednesday — "Recover Together, Recover Stronger".

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