Wednesday May 27, 2020

April 6, 2016

Nuclear Security Summit Working Dinner (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Nuclear Security Summit Working Dinner
(Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

President Obama met with Chinese President Xi Jinping on March 31 at the sidelines of the Nuclear Security Summit in Washington, DC. The 90-minute meeting covered a wide array of key issues, including climate change, nuclear security, cyber security, maritime issues, economic access, and human rights.

In remarks before their bilateral meeting, Obama highlighted continued efforts between the U.S. and China to foster high-level engagement, cooperate in important areas, and develop “a frank and effective level of communications.” The importance of U.S.-China cooperation was echoed by Xi: “Our two countries have some disputes and disagreements in some areas….We should seek active solutions through dialogue and consultation.”

On nuclear issues, the two leaders reaffirmed their commitment to the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and the sanctions recently outlined in UN Security Council Resolution 2270, which was issued in May in response to the nuclear test conducted by North Korea in January. In a joint statement, the two countries praised the completion of the Nuclear Security Center of Excellence (COE), opened in Beijing on March 18 as a result of U.S.-China collaboration. The statement also outlined joint efforts to convert Miniature Neutron Source Reactors (MNSRs), the continuation of nuclear security training programs, coordination on the prevention of nuclear smuggling, and work to improve the security of radioactive sources.

As has been a theme in most recent bilateral discussions between the U.S. and China, this meeting also included a discussion of climate change and the Paris climate change agreement. They confirmed they would both sign the Paris Agreement on April 22 and served as an indication of the large significance both countries place on this agreement. Obama said, “Our cooperation and our joint statements were critical in arriving at the Paris agreement, and our two countries have agreed that we will not only sign the agreement on the first day possible, but we’re committing to formally join it as soon as possible this year.”

Several areas of contention were also discussed during the meeting. Obama brought up the importance of intellectual property protection, a level playing field for U.S. companies in China, and the addressing human rights concerns. The South China Sea maritime disputes were also discussed. The current territorial disputes in the South China Sea have been a large source of regional tension recently, with the U.S. emphasizing the importance it places on the freedom of navigation of the seas and China emphasizing its national security concerns. President Xi is quoted as saying, China will “not accept any freedom of navigation as an excuse to undermine China’s sovereignty and national security interests.”

Bilateral dialogues like this one are necessary for the progress of U.S.-China bilateral ties, especially in areas with the potential for mutual cooperation. The two leaders will likely meet again at the G20 Summit being held in Hangzhou, China in September.

For more information on this topic, please visit the following links:

The White House– “Readout of the President’s Meeting with President Xi Jinping of China

The White House– “Remarks by President Obama and President Xi of the People’s Republic of China Before Bilateral Meeting

The White House– “U.S.-China Joint Statement on Nuclear Security Cooperation

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs– “Xi Jinping Meets with President Barack Obama of US

New York Times– “Obama and President Xi of China Vow to Sign Paris Climate Accord Promptly

RT– “Xi warns Obama against threatening China’s sovereignty & national interests

Xinhua (新华社)– “习近平会见美国总统奥巴马