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The Nikkei View

US and China should continue talks to avoid conflict

Upcoming Quad leaders' summit offers chance to better engage with Beijing

Chinese President Xi Jinping and then-U.S. Vice President Joe Biden walk together at Andrews Air Force Base, in the U.S. state of Maryland, in 2015. The two leaders have agreed to keep communications open despite simmering tensions between the countries.   © AP

U.S. President Joe Biden and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping recently had their first phone conversation in seven months. This is a welcome development, as maintaining frank dialogue between the two opposing leaders is key to avoiding inadvertent incidents.

During the 90-minute call on Sept. 9, Biden discussed ways to put U.S.-China relations back on track while avoiding misunderstandings and unforeseen conflicts. However, it appears the U.S. administration will keep its competitive policies in place.

"The U.S. policy toward China has severely damaged relations between the two countries," said Xi, referencing growing U.S. engagement with Taiwan and criticisms from Washington regarding human rights issues related to Uyghurs in Xinjiang.

Though the two sides remain at odds, they have agreed to keep communications open and to stay in contact through various means. They also exchanged views on climate change and the troubling situation in Afghanistan.

The U.S. will hold an in-person leaders' summit with Australia, India and Japan -- collectively known as the "Quad" -- in Washington on Sept. 24 to discuss ways to counter China's growing influence. Biden is thought to have held the call with Xi to sound out the Chinese leader's thinking ahead of the meeting.

Banking on their common values, the four Quad countries should thoroughly coordinate their efforts at the coming summit to bring stability to the Indo-Pacific region.

Cooperation among liberal and democratic countries is important to maintaining economic interaction with China while also stopping Beijing's attempts to alter the status quo by force.

Attention will now turn to whether Biden and Xi will hold their first in-person meeting as national leaders. The U.S. is exploring the possibility of a meeting on the sidelines of the Group of 20 summit in Italy at the end of October.

If the world's top two economic powers remain locked in all-out confrontation, the impact on the global economy will be immeasurable.

The world should embrace steps taken by the U.S. and China to ease tensions, even if in limited areas, and encourage efforts to move the relationship forward.

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