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Xi meets Biden, Albo's turn on Tuesday

United States-China talks will continue after US President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping met at the G20 to prevent strained ties from worsening.

The leaders engaged in blunt talks over Taiwan and North Korea in a three-hour meeting aimed at preventing strained US-China ties from spilling into a new Cold War.

Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese will meet President Xi on the sidelines of the G20 summit on Tuesday afternoon, marking the first time since 2016 the Chinese leader has met with an Australian prime minister, at that time, Malcolm Turnbull.

Amid simmering differences on human rights, Russia's invasion of Ukraine and support of domestic industry, the two leaders pledged more frequent communications. 

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken will travel to Beijing for follow-up talks.

Biden said after his talks with Xi on Monday on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Indonesia:

"We're going to compete vigorously but I'm not looking for conflict - I'm looking to manage this competition responsibly."

Beijing has long said it would bring the self-governed island of Taiwan, which it views as an inalienable part of China, under its control and has not ruled out the use of force to do so. 

It has frequently accused the US in recent years of encouraging Taiwan independence.

In a statement after their meeting, Xi called Taiwan the "first red line" that must not be crossed in US-China relations, Chinese state media said.

Biden said he sought to assure Xi US policy on Taiwan, which has for decades been to support both Beijing's 'One China' stance and Taiwan's military, had not changed.

He said there was no need for a new Cold War and he did not think China was planning a hot one, telling reporters "I do not think there's any imminent attempt on the part of China to invade Taiwan."

On North Korea, Biden said it was hard to know whether Beijing had any influence over Pyongyang's weapons testing. 

Biden said he told Xi the US would do what it needs to do to defend itself and allies South Korea and Japan, which could be "maybe more up in the face of China" though not directed against it.

"We would have to take certain actions that would be more defensive on our behalf ... to send a clear message to North Korea.
"We are going to defend our allies, as well as American soil and American capacity."

Biden's national security adviser Jake Sullivan said before the meeting that Biden would warn Xi about the possibility of enhanced US military presence in the region, something Beijing is not keen to see.

Beijing had halted a series of formal dialogue channels with Washington, including on climate change and military-to-military talks, after US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi upset China by visiting Taiwan in August.

Biden and Xi agreed to allow senior officials to renew communication on climate, debt relief and other issues, the White House said after they spoke.

Xi's statement after the talks included pointed warnings about Taiwan. State media attributed to Xi these comments:

"The Taiwan question is at the very core of China's core interests, the bedrock of the political foundation of China-US relations, and the first red line that must not be crossed in China-US relations.
"Resolving the Taiwan question is a matter for the Chinese and China's internal affair(s).

Taiwan's democratically elected government rejects Beijing's claims of sovereignty over it.

Taiwan's presidential office said it welcomed Biden's reaffirmation of US policy. 

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese will meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping in a significant diplomatic breakthrough, as tensions have continued to rise.

Treasurer Jim Chalmers says a meeting between Chinese President Xi Jinping and Prime Minister Anthony Albanese won't immediately fix the fractured relationship between the two countries, or result in the removal of trade sanctions worth $20 billion.

Dr Chalmers hailed the meeting as really important, and as a welcome opportunity to return the relationship back to normal, but warned all of Australia's issues wouldn't be resolved off the back of it, telling national radio: 

"I don't think anybody pretends that some of the issues that China has raised, certainly some of the issues that we have raised, will be solved overnight.
"We give ourselves a much better chance where there's engagement and dialogue and there will be today."

Dr Chalmers reiterated the lifting of the tariffs was a key issue for the relationship to stabilise.

"These trade restrictions are obviously not in Australia's interests, not in the interest of our employers and our exporters," he said.
"There's a sense of working together, where there is agreement, there is common ground, and I think that is a really, really important start."

While Mr Albanese would not reveal what he plans to discuss with the Chinese president, he considered it a success that a meeting was taking place, telling reporters in Bali:

"For six years we have not had any dialogue and it is not in Australia's interest to not have dialogue with our major trading partners.
"We will have a constructive dialogue. I will put Australia's position on a range of issues, and of course, Australia's positions on most of those is very well known."

China's trade sanctions on Australian products, security muscle-flexing and relationship with Russia will provide a backdrop for the significant meeting. 

Business Council of Australia chief Jennifer Westacott, in Bali for the B20 meeting of industry representatives, described it as a "tremendous reset" with China. 

"We've obviously had a set of difficulties in the relationship, but you can't fix those if you don't have a dialogue.
"This creates an opportunity for businesses to come in behind that reset the prime minister has done and start building those ... relationships."

Mr Albanese has also confirmed bilateral talks with the new UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, French President Emmanuel Macron and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Leaders from the world's strongest economies have descended on the Indonesian island of Bali for the G20 summit.

They aim to tackle the challenges faced across the world including inflation, climate change and the long-term effects of the pandemic. 

with Associated Press

Meanwhile, the United Nations expects China's population to start shrinking from next year as India becomes the world's most populous country.

China was for decades preoccupied with the prospect of runaway population growth and imposed a strict one-child policy from 1980 to 2015 to keep numbers in check.

China's fertility rate of 1.16 in 2021 was below the 2.1 OECD standard for a stable population and among the lowest in the world.

The anguish of the COVID-19 pandemic and China's strict measures to stamp it out may also have had a profound impact on the desire of many people to have children, demographers say.

New births in China are set to fall to record lows this year, demographers say, dropping below 10 million from last year's 10.6 million - which was already 11.5 per cent lower than in 2020.

Beijing last year began allowing couples to have up to three children and the government has said it is working towards achieving an "appropriate" birth rate.

The proportion of the population over the age of 65 is now about 13 per cent but is set to rise sharply. 

A declining labour force faces an increasing burden of looking after the rising numbers of old folk.

Alarmed by the prospect of an ageing society, China has been trying to encourage couples to have more children with tax breaks and cash handouts, as well as more generous maternity leave, medical insurance and housing subsidies.

But demographers say the measures are not enough. 

They cite high education costs, low wages and notoriously long working hours, along with frustration over COVID curbs and the overall state of the economy.


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