Prof. ST Hsieh
Director, US-China Energy Industry Forum
March 17, 2022
US and China announced today that Biden and Xi will speak by phone on Friday, March 18, 2022. Both official announcements are typically short indicating that both sides have low expectations. But it is plausible that Sullivan-Yang meeting on this Monday had achieved some agreements on what Biden-Xi could cover on phone. It is a very busy time for both Biden and Xi: Biden is occupied by domestic high inflation, the Ukraine war and Xi faces rising COVID-19 tidal waves.
Ukraine war is a local war fought between Russia and Ukraine. The US led alliance have exercised unprecedent economic sanctions against Russia. War will not last long, Russia and Ukraine are engaged cease fire talks daily. The US of course is maximizing her global influence taking advantage of the terrible war. As such, US is pressuring China to take the stand against Russia. But US can only hope that China will not openly side with Russia in this war.
From China’s perspective, US-China competition for supremacy is the real and only issue of concern. But US is facing a two-war scenario: one hot war in Europe contesting Russia and another cold war contesting China. It is a serious test of Biden Administration’s bandwidth as the US mid-term election is some eight months down the road.
Let us study the readouts from this Biden-Xi phone call and hope for the best!
Statement by Press Secretary Jen Psaki on President Biden’s Call with President Xi Jinping of the People’s Republic of China
MARCH 17, 2022•STATEMENTS AND RELEASES
President Joseph R. Biden, Jr. will speak with President Xi Jinping of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) this Friday. This is part of our ongoing efforts to maintain open lines of communication between the United States and the PRC. The two Leaders will discuss managing the competition between our two countries as well as Russia’s war against Ukraine and other issues of mutual concern.
Xi to speak with Biden on Friday: Chinese FM
By Global Times Published: Mar 17, 2022 10:49 PM
Chinese President Xi Jinping to speak with US President Joe Biden on Friday. The two leaders will exchange opinions on China-US relations and issues of common interest: Chinese FM
Biden, Xi to discuss Ukraine in Friday call, White House says
Published: March 17, 2022 at 8:15 a.m. ET
By Robert Schroeder, MarketWatch
President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping will hold a call on Friday, the White House announced, in what will be the first conversation between the two leaders since Russia invaded Ukraine. Biden and Xi “will discuss managing the competition between our two countries as well as Russia’s war against Ukraine and other issues of mutual concern,” the White House said in a statement. Earlier this week, the Associated Press reported that Biden’s national security adviser warned a top Chinese official about China’s support for Russia in the Ukrainian invasion, even as the Kremlin denied reports it had requested Chinese military equipment to use in the war.
The following quotes are from Secretary Blinken speaking to Press on March 17, 2022
We believe China in particular has a responsibility to use its influence with President Putin and to defend the international rules and principles that it professes to support.
Instead, it appears that China is moving in the opposite direction by refusing to condemn this aggression while seeking to portray itself as a neutral arbiter – and we’re concerned that they are considering directly assisting Russia with military equipment to use in Ukraine.
President Biden will be speaking to President Xi tomorrow and will make clear that China will bear responsibility for any actions it takes to support Russia’s aggression, and we will not hesitate to impose costs.
The Hill, March 17, 2022
Biden to speak to China’s Xi Jinping
President Biden is scheduled to speak with Chinese President Xi Jinping on Friday as Washington warns Beijing against aiding Russia during its invasion of Ukraine.
China’s role in the Russian-invasion conflict has been unclear. Beijing has publicly tried to stay neutral in the conflict, but Russia is said to have asked for military assistance during its invasion.
National security adviser Jake Sullivan met with his Chinese counterpart in Rome on Monday, where he warned that Beijing would face consequences if it helped Moscow.
‘Maintaining open lines of communication:’ “This is part of our ongoing efforts to maintain open lines of communication between the United States and the PRC,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said in a statement Thursday, referring to the People’s Republic of China.
“The two Leaders will discuss managing the competition between our two countries as well as Russia’s war against Ukraine and other issues of mutual concern.”
Recapping Sullivan’s meeting: Monday’s meeting had been planned before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, it came as fears grew that China would aid Russia.
Biden administration officials described the meeting in a phone call to reporters that day as intense and candid.
A readout of the call from the White House said “a range of issues” was discussed, and there was “substantial discussion” about Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.
China would ‘never attack Ukraine:’ As China seeks to stay neutral in Russia’s invasion, Beijing’s ambassador to Ukraine Fan Xianrong said it would “never attack Ukraine.”
Fan made the comments on Monday to Maksym Kozytskyi, the governor of Lviv, Ukraine, according to Bloomberg.
“I, as an ambassador, can say with responsibility that China will always be a force for good for Ukraine in the economic and in the political sense,” Fan said. “We will always respect your state, will develop relations on the basis of equality and mutual benefit. We will respect the path chosen by Ukrainians because this is the sovereign right of every nation.”
Axios, March 17, 2022
Biden to speak with China’s Xi Jinping about Russia
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President Biden will speak to Chinese President Xi Jinping Friday as “part of our ongoing efforts to maintain open lines of communication between the United States and the PRC,” press secretary Jen Psaki said in a statement Thursday.
Why it matters: Biden and Xi will in part discuss Russia’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine after reports indicated that Moscow had asked China’s government for military equipment and other assistance to support its war.
- Chinese officials said they were unaware of any request from Russian officials, though U.S. national security adviser Jake Sullivan this week warned China’s top diplomat Yang Jiechi of “consequences” if Beijing materially supports the war.
- The U.S. has also accused China of assisting Russia in spreading false claims that the United States is financing biological weapons labs in Ukraine.
What they’re saying: “The two Leaders will discuss managing the competition between our two countries as well as Russia’s war against Ukraine and other issues of mutual concern,” Psaki said.
The big picture: Russian President Vladimir Putin and Xi have forged deeper economic and military ties over the past several years as tensions with the U.S. have soared.
- With Russia facing overwhelming economic sanctions from the U.S. and Europe, Moscow will likely have to deepen its already significant economic reliance on Beijing — though it’s an increasingly lopsided relationship, Axios’ Bethany Allen-Ebrahimian and Dave Lawler report.
Biden to speak with Chinese President Xi Jinping Friday
- By Nikki Carvajal and Kate Sullivan, CNN
- Updated 9:51 AM ET, Thu March 17, 2022
The announcement from White House press secretary Jen Psaki comes days after a US diplomatic cable suggested China has expressed some openness to providing Russia with requested military and financial assistance as part of its war on Ukraine. It is not yet clear whether China intends to provide Russia with that assistance, US officials familiar with the intelligence told CNN earlier this week.
“This is part of our ongoing efforts to maintain open lines of communication between the United States and the PRC,” Psaki said, using the abbreviation for the People’s Republic of China. “The two Leaders will discuss managing the competition between our two countries as well as Russia’s war against Ukraine and other issues of mutual concern.”
The announcement of the call comes after an intense, seven-hour meeting in Rome, between Biden’s national security adviser Jake Sullivan and top Chinese diplomat Yang Jiechi. During the meeting, Sullivan warned his Chinese counterpart of “potential implications and consequences” for China should support for Russia be forthcoming, a senior administration official said.
Biden and Xi’s last known conversation took place in November during a three-and-a-half hour virtual summit. The highly anticipated summit yielded no major breakthroughs — none were expected ahead of time — and officials dismissed the notion the summit was intended to ease what has become an increasingly tense relationship. During their last meeting, Biden raised concerns about human rights, Chinese aggression toward Taiwan and trade issues, the White House said at the time.
Assistance from China would be a significant development in Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. It could upend the hold Ukrainian forces still have in the country as well as provide a counterweight to the harsh sanctions imposed on Russia’s economy.
One of Russia’s requests to China was pre-packaged, non-perishable military food kits, according to two sources familiar with the matter. The request underscores the basic logistical challenges the Russian military is facing and raises questions about its fundamental readiness. Russian forces have experienced logistical and strategic setbacks since their invasion began more than two weeks ago.
US officials say they believe Xi has been unsettled by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and how Russia’s military has been performing.
US officials, including White House press secretary Jen Psaki, have been increasingly critical of Beijing’s response to Russia’s war in Ukraine. Chinese domestic media coverage has promoted Russian disinformation campaigns and described the war as a “special military operation.” Psaki also tweeted that Beijing “has seemingly endorsed” false Russian claims that the US is developing chemical weapons in Ukraine.
The call will come days before the President is scheduled to travel to Europe to meet with world leaders to discuss Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The President will travel to Brussels to participate in a NATO summit on March 24 and will also join a European Council meeting.
Since taking office, the President has emphasized that managing competition with China is a long-term national security and economic priority of the United States. Biden has repeatedly stressed he believes the US is at an inflection point in its history and must show the world democracies can compete with autocratic regimes like China’s.
- This story has been updated with additional information.