Prof. ST Hsieh
Director, US-China Energy Industry Forum
November 16, 2023
The Biden-Xi summit closed without much surprise, but it is too early to conclude who is the winner or who is the loser. Because a stabilized US-China relation is good for both the US and China, as well as the world.
The fact of life is that the US-China relation deteriorated after Biden took office, it is not necessary Biden’s fault. However, under Biden’s watch the world is less secure now with two regional wars and a weak global economy.
Biden’s self-proclaimed prominent record of “foreign policy experience” and “personal touch diplomacy” have paid off at this Biden-Xi summit. Biden’s personal conviction “That the global stage is a fight for survival between democracy and autocracy, with stakes that couldn’t be higher. …” is not off base.
However, to survival on the global stage, Biden must have the backing of a unified and strong US, his home base. Unfortunately, Biden’s efforts on global affairs as a leader seems to be misplaced. Biden’s overall performance is clear by the US public opinion poll: he is behind Trump in his reelection bid, which is less than one year away. It will not matter much whether Biden is tough or soft on Xi, because Chinese does not get to vote in the US elections. US voters care about domestic issues the most: economy, inflation, crime, safety, and immigration etc. Biden, if he is serious about reelection in 2024, he should be on the road five days a week and visit each county of the US: explain to the voters why he is better qualified, with prof and plan, than Trump as the next US president. Otherwise, Biden should drop out of the race and give another Democrat a real chance to govern.
November 16, 2023
HE SAID, XI SAID — When President JOE BIDEN sat down across from Chinese President XI JINPING yesterday for a four-hour meeting at the APEC Conference in San Francisco, the biggest win the administration expected was a relationship reset — lowering the temperature between the two nations.
According to Biden, they succeeded … for now.
The two leaders agreed to (1) reestablish military communications after they were cut more than a year ago; (2) strengthen cooperation on counternarcotics as a way to curb the fentanyl crisis here in the U.S.; and (3) kick off a new round of talks on climate change.
In a solo news conference after the meeting, Biden told reporters that in the months ahead, the U.S. would continue to preserve and pursue high-level diplomacy with the PRC to keep the lines of communication open. “He and I agreed that either one of us can pick up the phone and call directly,” Biden said. “Miscalculations on either side can or can cause real, real trouble with a country like China or any other major country.”
The proof is in the pudding: The Chinese government has often made promises to only ignore those promises later.
And while Biden seemed pretty pleased with where things stand, two small moments from the news conference give us a glimpse into just how frosty the relationship continues to be. When asked if he still saw Xi as dictator, Biden replied, “Well, look, he is.” Asked if he trusted the other leader, he said, “I trust but verify, as an old saying goes. That’s where I am.”
Toplines on the ongoing tensions:
POLITICO : “Biden’s candid assessment of China’s leader proved to be a closer reflection of the increasingly frosty relationship between the two powers. It also harkened back to a broader theme of Biden’s presidency: That the global stage is a fight for survival between democracy and autocracy, with stakes that couldn’t be higher. …
“Below the surface pleasantries, readouts for the two leaders exposed the deep divisions on key bilateral issues. Xi demanded that the U.S. ‘stop arming Taiwan,’ Xinhua reported . He also declared that the self-governing island’s ‘reunification’ with China — something the majority of Taiwanese oppose — is ‘unstoppable.’ Biden said America’s policy on Taiwan has not changed.”
NYT : “The two leaders issued no joint statement. There appeared to have been only brief discussion of the most aggressive actions that have come close to triggering disasters: the scores of Chinese intercepts of American planes that the U.S. says are flying in international airspace, or the confrontations in disputed waters off the Philippines and the South China Sea.”
WSJ : “The outcome is likely to face pressure in coming months, with disagreements over an election in Taiwan and the Chinese navy’s harassment of ships from the Philippines, a U.S. ally.”