US and Chinese leaders Joe Biden and Xi Jinping decided to hold a virtual summit on Monday amid growing tensions between Washington and Beijing. The talks have been called the most meaningful in US-China relations since the current President of the United States took office, even before they began.
Joe Biden and Xi Jinping will hold a virtual summit on Monday to stop, or at least slow down, the downward spiral in US-China relations, The Guardian writes .
As the British newspaper reminds, the leaders of the two countries have talked on the phone twice since Biden took office in January, but the current videoconference should be their most significant discussion to date.
The virtual summit is being held just days after the US and China surprised analysts by agreeing to expand their climate cooperation in Glasgow. But negotiations are also taking place at a time of growing tensions over Taiwan, the most dangerous potential flashpoint between the two powers. On Tuesday, the People’s Liberation Army held the latest in a series of combat readiness exercises off the Taiwan coast, and on Saturday, the country’s top diplomats exchanged warnings about the situation around the island in a telephone conversation.
Reuters reported that Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi told US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken that any show of support for Taiwan’s independence would boomerang for the United States. Blinken, in turn, expressed concern about the growing “military, diplomatic and economic pressure” from China on the island.
US accusations of repeated cyberattacks by China, deep divisions over human rights in Xinjiang, Hong Kong and Tibet, and protracted trade disputes have also contributed to the relentless deterioration of relations between Washington and Beijing.
The United States is disappointed that China is obstructing a multilateral investigation into the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic and is outraged by Chinese government pressure on US companies to lobby in Congress to waive legislation that Beijing does not like, Reuters reported Friday.
The stakes have risen due to the rapid expansion of China’s military capabilities, including its nuclear arsenal, The Guardian notes. Beijing has tested a new weapon, a nuclear-powered hypersonic glider launched from orbit, and China is reportedly building at least 250 new long-range missile silos, according to US data.
Expectations for the summit are rather low, writes The Guardian. A joint statement is unlikely to come out, and the White House has indicated that Biden will not answer questions from the press after the talks are over.
“On the whole, both in Washington and in Beijing, expectations of a rapprochement of positions are practically dead. Instead, the relationship has become more business-like, ”says Scott Moore, director of China programs and strategic initiatives at the University of Pennsylvania. – Biden is facing political problems at home with the midterm elections coming up (next year). Therefore, he is likely to face political constraints in taking any action that might be perceived or characterized as significant concessions to China. For Xi, the biggest vulnerability is the economic front. This is why Beijing is demonstrating its interest in making progress in trade. Recent comments from Biden administration officials indicate an interest in addressing these issues, but again, it is likely
Both leaders will strive to limit the danger of rivalry spiraling out of control, The Guardian notes.
In a message to the National Committee on US-China Relations, Xi Jinping said that bilateral relations are at a “critical historical stage.” “Both countries will benefit from cooperation and lose from confrontation. Cooperation is the only right choice, ”Xi said in a statement.
In his message at the committee’s commemorative event on November 9, Biden also pointed to “a turning point in history”: “From the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic to the elimination of the real threat of the climate crisis, the relationship between the US and China is of global importance.”
White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki said that Biden will “clearly and frankly” voice Washington’s concerns, but will seek ways to “responsibly manage competition” between the world’s two largest economies, and will seek to “work together where our interests coincide.” …
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said Monday’s summit could be a turning point in efforts to improve the trajectory of bilateral relations: “Both sides must meet halfway … to ensure a smooth and successful meeting and return the Sino-American relationship to a healthy and stable development. “.
Xi Jinping will seek to prevent steps to boycott the Winter Olympics in China this year and is expected to invite Biden to the games as a conciliatory gesture as well.
But Taiwan is likely to be Xi’s focus, especially after a series of steps taken by the Biden administration to elevate Taiwan’s status in what China sees as a break with Washington’s long-standing “one China policy” that recognizes the People’s Republic of China as China’s sole sovereign government.
“The increasingly provocative actions of the United States continue to add uncertainty. The Taiwan issue will be addressed and a warning from China will follow at the highest level not to bring the Taiwan issue to the brink of confrontation, ”Lü Xiang, a researcher at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told Global Times.
Bonnie Glazer, director of the German Marshall Fund’s Asia Program in the United States, said Beijing is worried about whether the Biden administration is actually pursuing its policy of one China. “They want to hear more reassurance about what the US will and will not do with Taiwan,” she said.
The American side will insist on more regular contacts between the defense and diplomatic departments, but Xi Jinping is likely to resist any action that, in his opinion, will normalize the role of the United States in the immediate vicinity of China.
In terms of nuclear arms control, Beijing has so far resisted any approach to entering bilateral negotiations and has rejected Donald Trump’s attempts to initiate trilateral negotiations with Russia.
“Unfortunately, I don’t think this will be the main topic of the meeting. The United States has not offered anything that China can talk about, and China does not like to negotiate outside the UN, predicts Gregory Kulacki, head of the Chinese project for the Union of Concerned Scientists. “They could have made some vague statement about their desire to stop the nuclear arms race, but anything concrete coming out of this seems unlikely.”