China’s ambassador to the United States, Qin Gang, has described the recent virtual meeting between Chinese President Xi Jinping and US President Joe Biden as a “milestone” for bilateral relations, and stressed the need to revive the spirit of “ping-pong diplomacy” that helped break the ice between the two countries 50 years ago.
Speaking at a webinar hosted by the Asia Society on Wednesday, Qin said the meeting, which lasted for more than three hours on Monday, was “frank, in-depth and constructive”, and covered a wide range of topics, including trade, climate change, human rights, Taiwan and the Covid-19 pandemic.
Qin said both leaders agreed to respect each other’s core interests and major concerns, avoid conflict and confrontation, enhance dialogue and cooperation, and manage differences in a constructive manner.
He said the meeting also sent a positive signal to the world that China and the US, as the two largest economies and permanent members of the UN Security Council, are willing to shoulder their responsibilities and work together for global peace, stability and prosperity.
Qin said the meeting was a “milestone” for China-US relations, which have been strained by a series of disputes and tensions in recent years.
He said the meeting marked a new starting point for the two countries to rebuild mutual trust, reduce misperceptions and miscalculations, and explore areas of common interest and cooperation.
He said the meeting also coincided with the 50th anniversary of the “ping-pong diplomacy” that paved the way for the normalization of diplomatic ties between China and the US in 1979.
In April 1971, a US table tennis team was invited to visit China, becoming the first American group to do so since the founding of the People’s Republic of China in 1949.
The visit was followed by a secret trip by then US national security adviser Henry Kissinger to Beijing in July 1971, and a historic visit by then US president Richard Nixon to China in February 1972.
Qin said the “ping-pong diplomacy” demonstrated the wisdom and courage of the leaders and people of both countries to overcome ideological differences and historical grievances, and open a new chapter of friendship and cooperation.
He said the current situation requires both sides to revive the spirit of “ping-pong diplomacy” and find new ways to enhance mutual understanding and trust.
He suggested that the two countries could increase exchanges and interactions in various fields, such as culture, education, sports, media, think tanks, youth and subnational levels.
He also proposed that the two countries could establish a regular dialogue mechanism at the top level, as well as at various levels of government, military, legislature and judiciary.
He said the two countries could also expand cooperation on global issues, such as fighting the pandemic, addressing climate change, promoting sustainable development, safeguarding multilateralism and maintaining regional stability.
Qin said he was optimistic about the future of China-US relations, as long as both sides adhere to the principles of mutual respect, equality and mutual benefit.
He said he hoped that the two countries could seize the opportunity of the Xi-Biden meeting, and work together to build a relationship that is not defined by confrontation, but by coordination, cooperation and stability.