CAO DESHENG in Beijing and ZHAO HUANXIN in Washington
The Foreign Ministry confirmed on Thursday that China and the United States are in communication about a meeting between President Xi Jinping and US President Joe Biden in Bali, Indonesia.
The confirmation came after Indonesian President Joko Widodo told reporters on Tuesday that both the Chinese and the US presidents will attend the Group of 20 Summit in Bali next week.
Speaking at a regular news conference on Thursday, Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said that China takes seriously the US' proposal of setting up a meeting between the two heads of state in Bali, and that the two sides are engaging each other on this.
Biden said that he expected to discuss a number of issues with Xi in Bali, including trade and guardrails for bilateral relations to avoid conflict.
Speaking at a White House news conference on Wednesday, Biden said: "What I want to do with him when we talk is lay out what each of our red lines are, understand what he believes to be in the critical national interests of China, what I know to be the critical interests of the United States, and to determine whether or not they conflict with one another. And if they do, how to resolve it and how to work it out."
Biden also said he was not willing to make any fundamental concessions when he meets with Xi.
In response, Zhao said that the US should work to meet China halfway, properly handle its differences with China, advance mutually beneficial cooperation, and avoid misunderstanding and misjudgment to push for the bilateral ties to return to the right track of healthy and steady growth.
A possible face-to-face meeting of the two presidents is highly anticipated as China-US relations have plunged into a free fall in recent years, with the Biden administration's first National Security Strategy released last month singling China out as "America's most consequential geopolitical challenge" to be outcompeted.
In their latest phone conversation, on July 28, Xi told Biden that to define China-US relations as strategic competition and view China as the primary rival and the most serious long-term challenge would be to misperceive China-US relations and misread China's development, and it would mislead the people of the two countries and the international community.
Experts said that the world needs to learn how the two major countries can coexist and cooperate in dealing with common global challenges, as the world is experiencing its sharpest slowdown in decades.
Scott Kennedy, senior adviser and Trustee Chair in Chinese Business and Economics at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, told China Daily in an earlier interview that leader-to-leader communication is vital for both China and the US, particularly at moments when the stakes are so high.
He said that the destructive consequences of insufficient regular interaction between the two governments and societies are increasingly clear. Instead, extensive in-person communication is central to reducing misunderstanding and stabilizing ties, he said.
At Thursday's news conference, Zhao reiterated that China's policy toward the US is consistent and clear. It stays committed to seeking mutual respect, peaceful coexistence and win-win cooperation with the US, and, meanwhile, it resolutely safeguards its sovereignty, security and development interests, he said.
The Taiwan question is at the center of China's core interests, the one-China principle underlies the political foundation of China-US relations, and the three joint communiques are the most important guardrails for bilateral ties, he said.
The spokesman urged the US to stop "obscuring, hollowing out and distorting" the one-China principle, abide by the basic norms of international relations in terms of respecting other countries' sovereignty and territorial integrity and non-interference with other countries' domestic affairs, and to come back to the three Sino-US joint comuniques and the one-China principle.
Noting that the nature of China-US economic and trade relations is mutually beneficial, Zhao stressed the need for the US to stop politicizing the trade issue, taking it as a tool and viewing it ideologically.