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(EDITORIAL from Korea Times on Nov. 16)

Editorials from Korean dailies 07:02 November 16, 2022

Differences still remain
Biden, Xi show signs of thawing strained ties

U.S. President Joe Biden and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping sought to "manage differences" on contentious issues during their landmark in-person meeting on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Bali, Indonesia, Monday. Fortunately, they toned down the Cold War rhetoric to prevent already-tense U.S.-China relations from deteriorating further.

What's notable is that the two leaders tried to find common ground and share common interests, although they clashed over thorny issues such as Taiwan. They sounded conciliatory compared to their previous harsh rhetoric toward each other. This eased tone was reflected in Biden's remark: "The U.S. would compete vigorously, but I'm not looking for conflict." He certainly did not want tensions between the two countries to spill over into conflict.

Xi reciprocated what Biden said. He told the U.S. president that the world is big enough for both countries to prosper and compete. "Under the current circumstances, China and the United States share more, not less, common interests," he said. He also clarified that China does not seek to challenge the U.S. or change the existing international order.

Yet, there still remain differences over a set of tricky issues. Xi warned Biden over Taiwan. He called Taiwan the first "red line" that must not be crossed in China-U.S. ties. Biden reaffirmed U.S. commitment to Beijing's "One China" policy, to avoid worsening bilateral ties which were strained by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's visit to the self-ruled island in August. Xi already has not ruled out the use of force to realize reunification with Taiwan, which Beijing claims to be part of China. Biden reassured the U.S. position that Washington is against Beijing's coercive and aggressive actions toward Taiwan.

Nevertheless, it is encouraging to see that the two leaders managed to find common ground on Russia's threat to use nuclear weapons in Ukraine. Biden and Xi shared the same opinion that a nuclear war should never be fought and can never be won. Now they need to do more to help bring an end to the Russian invasion of Ukraine as part of their joint efforts to promote global peace and stability.

Also drawing keen attention is Biden's bid to prod China to restrain North Korea's nuclear ambitions. Biden told Xi that Beijing has an obligation to dissuade Pyongyang from conducting its seventh nuclear test. He warned that the North's further military threats risk increasing the U.S. military and security presence in the region. However, it was not known how Xi responded to Biden's warning.

We urge Xi to join efforts by South Korea, the U.S. and Japan to discourage the North from pressing ahead with another nuclear test, which is reportedly aimed at developing tactical nuclear warheads. China should take a more active role in achieving a common goal of denuclearizing the North. Such a role could be the first step toward defusing tensions in the superpower rivalry between China and the U.S. as well as ensuring peace and stability in East Asia.

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