Chinese President Xi Jinping speaks during a bilateral meeting with US President Donald Trump at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Florida, April 7, 2017.
Carlos Barria | Reuters
BEIJING – Ahead of an expected virtual meeting with US President Joe Biden, Chinese President Xi Jinping said the country is willing to cooperate with the US – on condition of mutual respect.
Beijing usually uses the term “mutual respect” to argue for more favorable communications with the US
“Right now, relations between China and the US are at a historically critical point,” Xi said, according to a letter addressed to the National Committee on US-China Relations, a New York-based nonprofit.
“Both countries will benefit from cooperation and lose from confrontation,” Xi said in the letter. “Collaboration is the only right choice.”
Biden and Xi will hold a virtual meeting next week, Reuters reported a few hours before the letter was read, citing a source familiar with the matter. In early October, CNBC reported that the two leaders planned to hold such a meeting before the end of the year.
“According to the principles of mutual respect, coexisting peacefully and win-win cooperation, China stands ready to work with the United States to improve exchanges and cooperation across the board,” the letter said.
It was read in English by Chinese Ambassador to the US, Qin Gang, at the annual gala of the National Committee on US-China Relations. The event was livestreamed in Beijing time on Wednesday morning.
Xi also said China would like to work with the US to “address regional and international issues as well as global challenges”.
He added that in the meantime, the two countries must “manage the differences well”, “to put China-US relations back on the right track of healthy and steady development.”
Overall, Xi’s comments maintained the firm, calm tone of most of Beijing’s language on relations with the US, rather than some of the harsher comments Chinese officials have made in recent months.
The letter comes as Xi is expected to further consolidate his power at a high-level political meeting in Beijing this week. The Chinese leader has abolished presidential term limits, allowing him to stay longer than two terms.
Tensions between the US and China have risen in recent years.
Biden’s predecessor, former President Donald Trump, began to take a tough stance on China, starting with trade. Trump lifted tariffs on billions of dollars worth of imports from China, and blacklisted several Chinese tech companies that effectively prevent them from buying critical stocks from US companies.
The Biden administration has maintained Trump’s difficult position and has worked more closely with traditional US allies to jointly pressure Beijing.
In 2017, according to the Chinese embassy in the US, Xi had attended the gala dinner of the National Committee on US-China relations with congratulations, according to the Chinese embassy in the US. “handling differences well based on mutual respect.”