The telephone talk between Chinese President Xi Jinping and United States President Joe Biden on Thursday was the focus of the world's attention, with widespread hope that it would help ease the rising tensions between the two countries.
However, as their previous four exchanges of views indicate those expectations might not be easily realized. There are many differences that are causing friction between the two countries, which have grave implications for Sino-US relations, and the world. Yet that the two leaders spoke for two hours and 17 minutes not only demonstrates in how many aspects of bilateral relations they were trying to clear the air to prevent relations from plunging into free fall, but also their shared desire to do so.
The two leaders certainly had more topics of bilateral and international concern to exchange views on this time than in their previous talks.
Most of these new topics, such as the escalation of the Ukraine crisis, the surging global inflation and acute energy and food shortages are related to the Biden administration's strategic misjudgments and policy mistakes.
That is also why Sino-US relations have plummeted to a historical low over the past 17 months since the Biden administration took office.
As Xi said on Thursday, viewing and defining Sino-US relations from the perspective of strategic competition, and regarding China as the US' primary adversary and its most serious long-term challenge are a misjudgment of relations and a misreading of China's development, which will mislead the two peoples and the international community.
If the US really does not seek a new Cold War, to change China's system and to strengthen its alliances targeting China, and it does not support Taiwan "independence", and is not seeking conflict with China－as Biden has claimed－relations would not have deteriorated to the state they are in today. Instead, the US has consistently acted to the contrary.
The US should view China's development objectively. China upholds the rules-based international order, and supports multilateral global governance and economic globalization, which are also in line with the interests of the US. Its development has benefited the US and the world, and will continue to do so. The Biden administration should make concrete moves to expand the areas where the two countries' interests converge with each other.
Xi's call for the two sides to advance bilateral cooperation and strengthen policy coordination to maintain the stability of global industry and supply chains, if acted on, would help address the development and security deficits of the world, and would be conducive to checking inflation and easing energy shortage, both primary concerns of the US.
Fundamentally, an improvement in relations requires the Biden administration to act in line with Biden's words.
In particular, the stern opposition Xi expressed against Taiwan "independence", foreign interference and creating any space for secessionists on the island should serve as a grave reminder to the US side that China will resolutely safeguard its core development interests and sovereignty and territorial integrity. China has repeatedly stressed that it strives for the best, but it is also prepared for the worst.
It is to be hoped that Xi's words have not fallen on deaf ears and the dialogue between the two leaders can help put the most important bilateral ties back on the right track.