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US Vice-President Kamala Harris spoke briefly with Chinese leader Xi Jinping on Saturday in another step toward keeping lines of communication open between the two biggest economies.
Harris and Xi exchanged remarks on Saturday while heading into a closed-door meeting at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum’s summit in Bangkok.
“I greeted President Xi before the APEC Leaders Retreat,” Harris wrote on Twitter. “I noted a key message that President Biden emphasized in his November 14 meeting with President Xi: We must maintain open lines of communication to responsibly manage the competition between our countries.”
Their exchange closely echoed Biden’s comment to Xi at a meeting between the two leaders earlier in the week about China and the US keeping lines of communication open.
A brief statement from China’s Foreign Ministry also referenced the Biden-Xi meeting at the Group of 20 summit in Bali, Indonesia, which it described as “strategic and constructive” with “major significance in guiding the next stage of China-US relations”. It said it hoped the vice-president will play an active role in working with China to promote the two nations’ relations “to return to a healthy and stable track”.
Relations between Washington and Beijing have suffered frictions 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 issues.
Harris later took part in a handover ceremony in which Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha handed over chairmanship of APEC to the United States, which will host the group’s meetings next year.
She told the leaders present for the ceremony that the United States would continue to focus APEC on sustainable economic growth, building on the strong foundation Thailand set this year with new ambitious sustainability goals.
She also touted her home state, California, saying “there is no better place to host APEC 2023 than California, a state known for economic innovation.”
“Our host year will demonstrate the enduring economic commitment of the United States to the Indo-Pacific,” said Harris.
“As I have made clear throughout my time in Bangkok: under our administration, the United States is a strong partner for the economies and companies of the Indo-Pacific, and we are working to strengthen our economic relationships throughout the region, including by increasing two-way trade flows and the free flow of capital, which supports millions of American jobs.”
On Friday, Harris pitched the US as a reliable economic partner, telling a business conference on APEC’s sidelines, “The United States is here to stay.”
Harris told leaders at the APEC summit that the US is a “proud Pacific power” and has a “vital interest in promoting a region that is open, interconnected, prosperous, secure and resilient”.
After receiving news that North Korea had fired an intercontinental ballistic missile that landed near Japanese waters, Harris convened an emergency meeting of the leaders of Japan, South Korea, Australia, New Zealand and Canada in which she slammed the missile test as a “brazen violation of multiple UN Security resolutions”.
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