Vice President Harris meets Chinese Xi in a bid to ‘keep the lines open’

BANGKOK — U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris spoke briefly with Chinese leader Xi Jinping on Saturday in a further step toward keeping lines of communication open between the two biggest economies.

Harris and Xi exchanged remarks on Saturday as they headed for a closed-door meeting at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum summit in Bangkok.

“I greeted President Xi before the APEC leaders retired,” Harris wrote on Twitter. “I noted a key message that President Biden emphasized during his November 14 meeting with President Xi: We must maintain open lines of communication to responsibly manage competition between our countries.”

Their exchange echoed Biden’s comment to Xi during a meeting between the two leaders earlier in the week about China and the United States keeping the lines of communication open.

A brief statement from China’s Foreign Ministry also referred to the Biden-Xi meeting at the G20 summit in Bali, Indonesia, which it called “strategic and constructive” with “major significance in guiding the next stage of China-US relations”. He said he hoped the vice president would take an active role in working with China to promote relations between the two nations “to return to a healthy and stable path.”

Relations between Washington and Beijing have suffered from friction over trade and technology, China’s claims to the separately governed island of Taiwan, the pandemic and China’s handling of Hong Kong, human rights and other questions.

PHOTOS: Vice President Harris meets China’s Xi in a bid to ‘keep the lines open’

Harris then took part in a handover ceremony in which Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha handed over the APEC chair to the United States, which will host the group’s meetings next year.

She told leaders at the ceremony that the United States will continue to focus APEC on sustainable economic growth, building on the strong foundation Thailand established this year with ambitious new sustainability goals.

She also touted her home state of California, saying “there’s no better place to host APEC 2023 than California, a state known for its economic innovation.”

“Our host year will demonstrate America’s enduring economic commitment to the Indo-Pacific,” Harris said.

“As I have made clear throughout my time in Bangkok: Under our administration, the United States is a strong partner for Indo-Pacific economies and businesses, and we are working to strengthen our relationship. economies across the region, including increasing two-way trade flows and the free flow of capital, which support millions of American jobs.

On Friday, Harris touted the United States as a reliable economic partner, telling an APEC sideline trade conference: “The United States is here to stay.”

Harris told leaders at the APEC summit that the United States is a “proud Pacific power” and has “a vital interest in promoting an open, interconnected, prosperous, secure and resilient region.”

After learning that North Korea fired an intercontinental ballistic missile that landed near Japanese waters, Harris called an emergency meeting of leaders from Japan, South Korea, Australia, New Zealand and Canada during which she called the missile test a “brazen violation”. multiple United Nations security resolutions.

“It destabilizes security in the region and unnecessarily raises tensions,” she said.

“We strongly condemn these actions and again call on North Korea to end further unlawful and destabilizing acts,” Harris said. “On behalf of the United States, I reaffirmed our unwavering commitment to our Indo-Pacific alliances.”

His remarks at the expanded APEC forum capped a week of high-level U.S. outreach to Asia as Washington seeks to counter China’s growing influence in the region, with President Joe Biden pushing the message of US engagement in the region at the Association of Southeast Asian Nations Summit in Cambodia and G-20 meeting in Indonesia.

Many Asian countries began to question America’s commitment to Asia after former President Donald Trump withdrew the United States from the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal, which had been the centerpiece of the “pivot of former President Barack Obama to Asia.

The Biden administration has sought to regain trust and capitalize on growing questions about the conditions attached to investments in China’s regional infrastructure that critics have dubbed Beijing’s “debt trap” diplomacy.

Biden and Harris also highlighted Washington’s Indo-Pacific Economic Framework, launched earlier this year.

After the APEC meeting, Harris also met with Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha. Details of their conversation were not immediately available, but were expected to cover global and regional issues, such as the war in Ukraine and the crisis in Thailand’s neighboring Myanmar, where a Military state last year unleashed what amounts to a civil war and a humanitarian crisis. crisis.

Besides economic issues, the pair were to talk about the close and long-term security alliance between Thailand and the United States.

Earlier, Harris announced a series of initiatives aimed at expanding bilateral cooperation on climate change and economic growth, as well as tackling drug trafficking and cybercrime in the Southeast Asian region. , both increasing alarmingly.

Harris has launched a series of partnerships with Thailand aimed at reducing emissions, advancing clean energy goals and promoting sustainable development, among others.

Biden and Harris also highlighted Washington’s Indo-Pacific Economic Framework, launched earlier this year.

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