Prof. ST Hsieh
Director, US-China Energy Industry Forum
August 18, 2023
There is no reason to fully focus geopolitics on individual personalities. Specifically, for the US, the President is not the only one in charge. Biden is in a tough reelection battle against a four-times convicted formal President Trump in 2024. The US House is controlled by the Republicans with a slim majority. The US Senate is controlled by Biden’s democratic party with only one vote. More significantly, Biden’s popular support level has never been above 50% in the US. There is no wonder that any foreign leader would follow Biden’s call all the way now. Because there is a chance that Trump will be the US President again in 2025. Worse, if Trump loses the election in 2024, will there be a re-run of the violent protest like the January 6, 2021?
Xi is termed by Biden as a “dictator” and “bad folks”, which is very undiplomatic. Of course, there is no public opinion poll in China, but it is real that Xi’s popular support level in China is better than that Biden enjoys in the US. The assumption that Xi will attack Taiwan just because he wishes to preserve his power base does not make much sense.
- Chinese learned from the proxy war in Ukraine and will not repeat the same mistake made by Russians. The on-going Ukraine war will be a major liability for Biden in his reelection bid. China is the only major global power has the capacity to mediate a cease fire in Ukraine. Biden will have to ask Xi for help soon.
- China’s mission is to “reunite” Taiwan peacefully and eternally, not to “occupy” Taiwan temporally with bloodshed. Most of the foreigners miss this important culture mission of Chinese.
- People in Taiwan are Chinese and fully appreciate the Chinese culture. They will not officially declare “Taiwan Independence” and invite a military attack from China. They also learn from the proxy war in Ukraine and will not foolishly provoke China.
For US, new challenge from China has unexpected source
Thu, August 17, 2023 at 7:46 AM PDT·5 min read
America is facing a new China conundrum.
And the latest challenge isn’t from an assertive show of strength by Beijing. It has come, instead, from an unexpected source, at a potentially critical moment – just as the world’s two main rival powers have appeared to be edging toward the kind of diplomatic
reengagement that U.S. President Joe Biden has been seeking, with little success, for the past few years.
It’s the growing signs in recent weeks that China’s seemingly inexorable economic rise is running into head winds: slowing growth, flagging consumer demand, debt problems in the troubled construction sector, and rising unemployment, especially among the young. And the signs, too, of some homegrown irritants for Chinese leader Xi Jinping.
First, late last month, came the sudden dismissal of Foreign Minister Qin Gang, a Xi protégé appointed to the post only months earlier. Then, barely two weeks ago, Mr. Xi replaced the top commanders in China’s elite nuclear missile force.
On one level, none of that is necessarily bad news for Washington. Mr. Biden has centered his increasingly assertive posture toward China on those two areas: economy and security. More specifically, his policy has been aimed at ensuring the United States can outpace China in cutting-edge technology, and, alongside U.S. allies, can constrain an increasingly assertive Chinese military posture.
Still, the Biden administration knows that China’s economy, the world’s second-largest, is not about to crater suddenly as a result of its current challenges. Nor is the missile-force shakeup likely to influence the main thrust of Mr. Xi’s security policy: a major military buildup as part of an ever-more-assertive projection of China’s power beyond its borders.
The deeper concern is how Mr. Xi – who has amassed greater personal authority than any Chinese leader since Mao Zedong, on the promise of China displacing the U.S. as the world’s preeminent power – will respond politically to his homegrown difficulties.
The worry is that he could now be doubly keen to project China’s, and his own, strength abroad, and that he’ll view any move toward a diplomatic thaw with America as a sign of weakness.
Mr. Biden himself gave voice to this concern at a fundraising event in Utah last week. Citing China’s economic slowdown, he said, “They’ve got some problems. That’s not good, because when bad folks have problems, they do bad things.”
Dim the glimmers of hope?
The reference appeared to be to the risk that China might ratchet up pressure on the island democracy of Taiwan, which Mr. Xi has vowed at some point to “reunite” with the mainland. But the more immediate concern is that China’s domestic difficulties could derail the first real glimmers of hope in many months for diplomatic reengagement.
Alongside a toughened economic and security stance toward China, the Biden administration has repeatedly stressed the need to keep the U.S.-China rivalry from breeding across-the-board hostility, preventing cooperation even on issues of common concern, and even leading to head-on conflict.
American officials have gone to great lengths to emphasize to Beijing that Washington’s tightened trade rules – including an executive order signed last week by Mr. Biden banning U.S. investments in Chinese high-tech firms – are not aimed at affecting China’s economy more broadly, or impeding its growth.
That’s a point Mr. Biden also stressed during his appearance in Utah. And although Mr. Xi has long been signaling skepticism about such assurances – accusing the U.S. earlier this year of seeking the “all-out encirclement” of China – there have been some recent indications he was becoming more receptive to improving the diplomatic atmosphere.
Mr. Xi and Mr. Biden met at last November’s G20 summit on the Indonesian island of Bali – their first face-to-face talks since Mr. Biden’s inauguration as president. Since then, a trio of American Cabinet secretaries, including Secretary of State Antony Blinken, have held talks with their Chinese counterparts.
And in what could prove a key test of Mr. Biden’s success in keeping open a U.S.-China dialogue even on issues of contention, like high-tech trade, Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo is due to travel to Beijing later this month. Assuming her visit goes ahead without a hitch, the focus will then shift back to presidential diplomacy: Both Mr. Biden and Mr. Xi are due to attend this year’s G20 summit, scheduled for next month in India.
Yet with a number of Chinese government ministers due to travel to the U.S. after that summit, the main measure of any sustained improvement may well come in November – in an expected Biden-Xi meeting at an Asia-Pacific economic summit due to be held in San Francisco.
Still, as Mr. Biden’s forceful, if undiplomatic, remarks in Utah suggested, Washington and its allies may first have to convince a newly reluctant Chinese leader that renewed diplomatic engagement is, far from a reflection of weakness on either rival’s part, in the fundamental interests of both of them.
Xi Makes First Major Appearance After Floods That Ravaged North
Thu, August 17, 2023 at 8:09 PM PDT
(Bloomberg) — Chinese President Xi Jinping made his first major public appearance after the country’s north was struck by devastating floods, calling for stronger efforts in disaster relief and safeguarding national food security.
Xi presided over a meeting of the Politburo Standing Committee on Thursday, emphasizing the need to speed up repair of damaged infrastructure such as transport, communications and electricity, as well as restore farmland and agricultural facilities, according to a report by the state broadcaster CCTV.
The comments come amid controversy over the government’s handling of the crisis. Swathes of northern China including Beijing, Hebei, Jilin and Liaoning were inundated with heavy rain and flooding brought by Typhoons Doksuri and Khanun in recent weeks, with the official tally showing at least 80 people have died.
At Thursday’s meeting, Xi said the country is still in the main flood season, emphasizing the need to respond accurately to early warnings. He called for schools, hospitals and nursing homes to be rebuilt. Authorities should work to minimize agricultural losses and ensure food security, according to the report.