US President Joe Biden raised concerns about Beijing’s practices in Hong Kong and the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region and China’s Xi Jinping warned of Taiwan “red line,” but both sides described the meeting as frank and direct.

Both Biden and Xi seemed determined to lower the temperature in what for both sides is their most significant — and frequently turbulent — relationship on the global stage.
Both Biden and Xi seemed determined to lower the temperature in what for both sides is their most significant — and frequently turbulent — relationship on the global stage. (AFP)

US President Joe Biden and China's Xi Jinping have agreed on the need to tread carefully in a virtual meeting, amid mounting tensions and intense competition.

The meeting, which took place late on Monday in Washington and early on Tuesday in Beijing, lasted a "longer than expected" three and a half hours, a senior US official told reporters. 

“Our responsibility as leaders of China and the United States is to ensure that the competition between our countries does not veer into conflict, whether intended or unintended,” Biden said in his own opening remarks.

Xi greeted the US president as his “old friend” and echoed Biden’s cordial tone, saying, “China and the United States need to increase communication and cooperation.”

Biden raised concerns about China's practices in Tibet, Hong Kong and the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region and Xi warned of Taiwan "red line", according to statements from both sides after the meeting.

The two also spoke about key regional challenges, including North Korea, Afghanistan and Iran.

READ MORE: Top thorny issues between US and China ahead of Xi-Biden virtual meet

Taiwan tension

During the meeting the leaders traded strong warnings on the future of Taiwan.

Tensions have heightened as the Chinese military has dispatched an increasing number of fighter jets near the self-ruled island of Taiwan, which Beijing considers part of its territory.

“The Taiwan issue concerns China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, as well as China’s core interest,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian said Monday. 

“It is the most important and sensitive issue in China-US relations.”

The White House said Biden reiterated the US will abide by the longstanding “One China” policy, which recognises Beijing but allows informal relations and defence ties with Taipei.

But Biden also made clear the US “strongly opposes unilateral efforts to change the status quo or undermine peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait," the White House said.

READ MORE: Top US, China diplomats lock horns over Taiwan ahead of Biden-Xi summit

Source: TRTWorld and agencies