Xi Jinping: Biden says he’s not concerned about possible armed conflict with China

“Am I worried about an armed conflict or something that accidentally happens with China? No, I’m not,” Biden told CNN’s Phil Mattingly during his closing press conference at CNN. COP26 summit.
Biden said at his next virtual summit – but not yet fixed – with Xi that he would continue to make it clear, “This is competition. It must not be a conflict.”

“There is no reason for there to be a conflict. But I have also indicated to him, so I do not hesitate to say it publicly, that we expect him to respect the rules of the road,” Biden said, adding the United States. would not change its position on several issues, including international maritime lands.

“I’m not looking, I don’t foresee that there will be a need for physical conflict, but you know, as you’ve heard me say before, my father had an expression, ‘The only conflict worse than the one that’s expected, is the one that is not wanted, ”Biden added.

Asked about the non-participation of China, Russia and Saudi Arabia at the COP26 summit, Biden said it was a “problem” but that the United States had thus “had a profound impact on the way the rest of the world looks at the United States and its leadership role. “

Xi and Russian President Vladimir Putin, two counterparts with whom Biden desperately hopes to personally engage as he works to prevent an already strained relationship from deteriorating further, have not attended any of the major summits this week. .

The reason given for Xi and Putin’s absences from the summits is the ongoing Covid pandemic. Cases are increasing in Russia and Xi has not left China for 21 months as the virus spreads across the world. The visit to the summits may also have subjected Xi to his country’s quarantine requirements, which would have made it difficult to attend an upcoming party congress meeting.

White House officials said Putin and Xi’s absence from the summits was not, in fact, a lost opportunity. Instead, they suggest the vacuum has allowed the United States and European leaders to set the agenda and lead discussions on topics important to them, like the climate and the fight against the global pandemic.

Yet on almost all of the major issues under discussion this week – climate, Covid, energy crisis, supply chain bottlenecks, Iran’s nuclear ambitions – Western countries must work with Russia and China to make progress. significant. And Biden, who has expressed a preference for the summits in person, is deprived of a crucial opportunity to exert his trademark mark of personal diplomacy on some of the world’s most difficult puzzles.

On Tuesday, Biden said staying home may have cost Xi some influence on the world stage.

“By showing ourselves, we had a profound impact on how I think the rest of the world views the United States and its leadership role. I think this is frankly a big mistake for China,” said Biden.

“The rest of the world is going to look to China and say what added value they bring and what they lost in creating influential people around the world and all the people here at Cop.”

CNN’s Kevin Liptak contributed to this report.