Biden, Xi lower temperatures in US-China relationship – Community News
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Biden, Xi lower temperatures in US-China relationship

Monday’s much-anticipated virtual summit between US President Joe Biden and his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, marked the most substantial exchange between the two leaders since Biden took office in January. The meeting, which was overtime and lasted three and a half hours, followed two phone calls between Biden and Xi, in February and September. But aside from pledges to improve cooperation, the summit failed to produce any major breakthroughs between the two rivals, who remain at odds over a number of issues, including trade, human rights and a military build-up in the Asia-Pacific region.

Sitting among senior government officials in the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, Xi kicked off the video conference on a positive note. “Today is the first time we’ve met via video,” he began. “I am very happy to see my old friend.” Xi later called for “a solid and stable relationship between China and the US,” where the two countries can coexist peacefully and work together on a range of global issues, including climate change and pandemic efforts.

Following his comments from a pre-recorded video address to the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Summit last Friday, China’s President called on Washington to take steps to show that this is not the case, as Biden told the September General Assembly in September. the UN said, seeking a “new Cold War”. .”

The two leaders also shared stories of their numerous previous meetings and the time they spent together, when both were their country’s No. 2 officials, according to a senior US government official who attended the talks.

But the conversation took a bitter turn when it came to substantive issues. Biden expressed concern about the status of Taiwan and human rights violations of Uyghur minorities in Xinjiang, which Beijing considers internal affairs off limits to the outside world. It is also worth noting that the crackdown on Hong Kong’s pro-democracy movement and civil liberties was not on the agenda.

Xi warned Beijing’s stance on the Taiwan issue, warning that China will act decisively “if separatist forces provoke us, force our hands on us or even cross the red line,” according to China’s official Xinhua News Agency. “Such movements are extremely dangerous, just like playing with fire. Whoever plays with fire will burn himself,” he emphasized.

Biden also didn’t shy away from addressing wider tensions in the bilateral relationship, while emphasizing the need to create “common sense guardrails”. “Our responsibility as leaders of China and the United States is to ensure that competition between our two countries does not turn into conflict, intentional or unintentional,” he said at the virtual summit.

“Both leaders are dissatisfied with the state of the relationship and the conduct of the other country,” Danny Russel, a former assistant secretary of state who participated in leadership-level conversations during the Obama administration, told The New York Times. “Both are also aware of the risk of an incident between our armies that could quickly spiral out of control.”

Before the meeting, Washington tried to lower expectations for the outcome by suggesting there would be “no results.” Ultimately, the lack of any concrete agreement or initiatives reflects the deep rift between Beijing and Washington. The two sides have not even cobbled together a joint statement or agreed a date for further talks, highlighting the major ideological differences likely to dominate bilateral relations for the foreseeable future. But the difference in tone – if not on the issues – is already a marked improvement from a year ago, when relations between the two countries were at their worst. Diplomats of the two sides spoke publicly in February at their first high-level meeting after Biden’s inauguration.

Also encouraging is the fact that negotiations between the deputies of the two leaders ahead of the summit yielded modest results. Even if they didn’t address core trade and supply chain issues, these small concessions were good news. In response to corporate requests to relax China’s pandemic-related travel restrictions, Xi agreed to speed up entry arrangements for visiting US executives. In a move that underscored that promise, Jamie Dimon, the chairman and CEO of JP Morgan Chase, was allowed to skip Hong Kong’s 21-day quarantine and fly directly to mainland China on Monday after a brief visit. The two sides also reached an agreement on easing restrictions on visiting journalists from both countries.

As Ali Wyne, an analyst at political risk consultancy Eurasia Group, told The New York Times, “Both countries want to lower temperatures. They both recognize that the threshold between intensifying competition and unfettered rivalry is thin.”

In other news

Activists, advocacy groups and dozens of lawmakers from 20 countries have opposed the nomination of a Chinese official to join the governing body of the International Criminal Police Organization, or Interpol, over fears Beijing could use the global police organization to target dissidents in the to prosecute abroad. Hu Binchen, a deputy general at China’s Ministry of Public Security, is one of three candidates competing for vacant seats on Interpol’s executive committee. “Having a Chinese official at Interpol would be like putting the fox in charge of the chicken coop,” human rights activist Bill Browder told The Sydney Morning Herald.


Just hours after the virtual Biden-Xi summit, the Chinese Communist Party unveiled the full text of its “historic resolution” passed by senior party officials last week at the sixth plenary session of the Central Committee. The document elevated Xi to the position of a transformational leader essential to ensure China’s rise. It also warned that the country must remain tough in the face of challenges. “Constant withdrawal will only lead to harassment from those who take a yard if you give an inch,” reads an excerpt from the resolution. “Making concessions to get our way will only put us in more humiliating circumstances.”

Worth reading

Writing in The Atlantic, Chris Horton writes about the growing willingness of many countries to sidestep China’s concerns about outside interference in Taiwan, largely because of Beijing’s belligerent over the issue. Using the popularity of the hit Fragile, which mocked Chinese censors and Beijing’s rhetoric about Taiwan, as one example among many, he looked at how China’s aggressive “wolf warrior” diplomacy has backfired and inadvertently has increased Taiwan’s international profile.

Rachel Cheung is a freelance reporter based in Hong Kong. Her work has appeared in the Los Angeles Times, The Washington Post and Nikkei Asian Review, among others, and she previously served as a reporter at the South China Morning Post’s culture desk.