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China and US define framework for lengthy talks on normalisation

US President Joe Biden and Secretary of State Antony Blinken attend the virtual meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping (Image courtesy: Twitter/@MegHays46)

China on Tuesday acknowledged that "the Taiwan question" remains the "most important and sensitive issue" in China-US relations and a topic "always on the agenda" whenever US-China heads of state meet.

The comment from the Chinese Foreign Ministry came hours after a marathon meeting between US President Joe Biden and his counterpart Xi Jinping – the first heads-of-state interaction in the virtual format in the history of US-China relations.

During the meeting, which lasted for more than three-and-a-half hours, Biden had underscored that the United States remains committed to the 'one China' policy, guided by the Taiwan Relations Act, the three Joint Communiques, and the Six Assurances.

The US President had also stated that Washington strongly opposes unilateral efforts to change the status quo or undermine peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait.

Taipei immediately expressed "gratitude" to Biden for "reaffirming rock-solid support" once again.  

"Our gratitude to POTUS for reaffirming rock-solid US support of Taiwan, maintaining commitments under the TRA & Six Assurances, & strongly opposing unilateral efforts to change the status quo or undermine peace & stability across the Taiwan Strait," tweeted Taiwan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Xi, meanwhile, ascribed the "new wave of tensions across the Taiwan Strait" to the repeated attempts by the Taiwan authorities to look for US support for their independence agenda, saying that some Americans also intend to use Taiwan to contain China.

"Should the separatist forces for Taiwan independence provoke us, force our hands or even cross the red line, we will be compelled to take resolute measures," the Chinese President told Biden during the summit.

He emphasised that China is firmly determined to defend its sovereignty, security and development interests and advised US to handle "sensitive issues in a constructive way" to prevent relations from getting derailed or out of control.

"We must stabilize the rudder so that the two giant ships of China and the United States will move forward together against the wind and waves without yawing, stalling, or colliding," Xi said on Tuesday.

Xi to Biden: Let's treat each other as equals

Calling the Biden-Xi summit "candid, constructive, substantive and productive", Beijing highlighted Xi's three principles for both countries to get along in the new era.

The first was to treat each other as equals, followed by peaceful coexistence and lastly, "win-win cooperation" as the two sides' interests are "deeply intertwined".

"If we cannot bring China-US relations back to where it were, then we should be forward-looking. China holds no illusions, but it is confident and will continue to stay focused. China is open to all options that are conducive to the development of China-US relations," said Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian.

Keeping a close watch on the summit was also the new Japanese government in Tokyo.

Japanese Foreign Minister Hayashi Yoshimasa and the US Secretary of State Antony Blinken had on Saturday discussed in detail China's "unilateral attempts to change the status quo by force" in the East and South China Seas.

Also Read: Japan raises the alarm ahead of Biden-Xi Summit

In an interview to the Japan Broadcasting Corporation on Tuesday, Yoshimasa said that the government is paying close attention to the situation, including the summit meeting between Biden and Xi.

"The stability of the relationship between the United States and China is extremely important for the international community. Japan would like to continue to promote various cooperation with the United States, which is an ally, and to encourage China to fulfill its responsibilities as a major power," said the new Foreign Minister.

Also Read: Biden, Xi pledge to avoid conflict at virtual summit