Briefing the media on Monday on the outcome of the first in-person meeting between President Xi Jinping and US President Joe Biden, which wrapped up earlier that day in Bali, State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi expressed cautious optimism that China and the United States can find a way to get along.
If so, the meeting will prove to have been of great practical significance in checking the worsening of bilateral ties by initiating the process of rebuilding mutual trust, which will have an important and far-reaching impact on China-US relations in the future.
Matching words with deeds is the key to moving forward. The meeting instilled confidence that by having in-depth communication and making intentions clear, redlines can be observed and ties can be guided in the right direction of win-win cooperation.
If the two countries can do that, they will not only be able to avoid confrontation but they will serve the interests of the two countries too and deliver tangible benefits to the two peoples and the world at large.
The meeting has made the direction clear for the healthy development of Sino-US relations and as President Xi said, the two sides should be responsible to history, the world and the people of the world to ensure that China-US relations stay on the right course and do not yaw, stall or collide.
Agreeing on the importance of establishing the guiding principles for China-US relations, the two heads of state tasked the working teams of the two sides to conduct follow-up consultations and strive to reach an agreement as soon as possible on the basis of the consensus reached so far.
China values the pledges Biden has reiterated on many occasions that the US does not seek a "new Cold War", to change China's system and to strengthen its alliance against China, and does not support "Taiwan independence", and has no intention of engaging in conflict or confrontation with China. And if mutual respect and the fostering of win-win cooperation serve as the foundation for the two sides' concerted endeavors to manage their differences, then the two sides should be able to prevent competition from becoming anything even close to a conflict, and to find ways to work together on urgent global issues.
Now, how the process to implement the important consensus reached by the two leaders unfolds will determine if optimism, however cautious, has been merely wishful thinking. The teams of the two sides should follow the priorities set by the two heads of state to the letter, maintain dialogue and communication, and properly manage their differences so as to promote exchanges and cooperation.
Doing so will not only inject positive energy into China-US relations but also install a safety valve.