Before the Monday meeting, UN Chief Antonio Guterres told the Associated Press that his focus is on the US and China fixing their relationship, and is keen to discuss bypassing a “cold war” with China.
Guterres told the wire service that the US-China relationship is “essential to address the problems of vaccination, the problems of climate change and many other global challenges that cannot be solved without constructive relations within the international community and mainly among the superpowers.”
“We need to avoid at all cost a cold war that would be different from the past one, and probably more dangerous and more difficult to manage,” he announced, continuing that the current relationship between the two powers is one of “confrontation.”
Guterres pointed to the recent nuclear submarine agreement signed by the US, United Kingdom and Australia, stating it has just further added to the “dysfunctional relationship” between the US and China.
Last week, the Biden administration declared a deal to sell nuclear submarines to Australia as part of a strategic Indo-Pacific alliance with Britain and Australia, running a 2016 contract with France to create 12 conventional diesel-electric submarines.
France immediately voiced its frustration, calling the deal a “stab in the back,” before canceling a gala in Washington, DC, and recalling all its ambassadors from the US and Australia.
China was further angered by the AUKUS nuclear submarine agreement, saying it “seriously damages regional peace and stability, intensifies the arms race, and undermines the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons.”
“China will pay close attention to the development of the AUKUS deal,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian stated. “Relevant countries should abandon their Cold War and zero-sum game mentality; otherwise, they will lift a rock that drops on their own feet.”
Biden’s conference with Guterres comes three weeks after the US completed a chaotic troop departure from Afghanistan and initial evacuation applications of Americans and Afghan allies from the nation.
The Taliban quickly took full control of the government and bested the US’s most conservative estimates of when they could regain control.
The Biden administration has faced bipartisan backlash for its handling of the troop departure, which saw the deaths of 13 US service members and almost 200 Afghans in an ISIS-K suicide bombing outside the Kabul airport.