Prof. ST Hsieh
Director, US-China Energy Industry Forum
Biden and Xi as announced, met for the first time in person as Presidents yesterday in Bali. The meeting lasted more than three and half hours, longer than expected. Chinese reports stated that the meeting was conducted via simultaneous translations, so it was efficient.
It appeared that Summit went along well as planned, both Presidents sticked to their talk points. Of course, they did not agree on everything, but they agreed on building a better future with actions. Looking back, US and China openly challenged each other around 2020 when Obama administration announced the policy of Pivot to Indo-Pacific, effectively denied China’s request to be treated as the second most powerful nation around the world, the so called “special major country relationship” with the US. Then, Trump administration unilaterally started the “easy to win” tariff wars against China and the world. Trump’s MAGA movement essentially moved the US to decouple from the world, or unofficially the end of globalization.
Lately, US speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, formally visited Taiwan in August; China reacted with unprecedented military drills around Taiwan. Suddenly, the war over Taiwan became red-hot global headlines.
But the world faces three-year unfinished COVID-19 pandemic and the nine-month-old Russia-Ukraine war that threatens the global economy, not to mention the imminent challenges of global climate change. Everyone around the world recognizes that US and China should stabilize their working relationship asap. Otherwise, if the US and China would create another major global crisis, the world may not survive.
As Biden and Xi talked with each other in person and in plain languages during this summit, US and China still have a lot of work to do for restoring mutual confidences. But there is real hope now!
The challenges are:
- US government has three co-equal branches, along with bitter partisan politics, Biden will have to exert extreme leadership to rein in US politicians and allow a sustainable US-China relation including Taiwan.
- China faces significant economy slow-down because of China’s net-zero COVID-19 policy and other challenges including slowing birth rate and global challenges.
- The global economy is under great stress due to Ukraine way and energy shortages, US and China need to work as a team to lead the recovery. Taking out politics from trades will be crucial.
- China will have a new government by next March, US will have a new Congress by next January, working level negotiations will have to start with new staffs in the US and China. It will take time, but the economic recovery cannot wait!
- Biden’s core strategy countering China included three key elements: invest, align, and compete. After this successful summit with Xi, Biden will have to explain his position to US allies and hope they are still aligned with his approach.
- Time is of essence, Biden has about two more years in office. He must focus his energy/time on dealing with China, otherwise the risk of slipping is very real.
Xi, Biden meet as world seeks more certainties
Current state of China-US relations is not in the fundamental interests of the two countries and peoples, and is not what the international community expects, Chinese President Xi Jinping said during his meeting with US President Joe Biden in Bali, Indonesia on Monday, which marked the first face-to-face meeting between the leaders of the world’s two biggest economies since Biden took office.
During the meeting, which reportedly lasted about three hours and 12 minutes, Xi told Biden that as leaders of two major countries, they need to chart the right course and find the right direction for bilateral ties and elevate the relationship, according to Xinhua. Xi also stressed that the two countries should take history as a mirror and let it guide the future.
The two leaders consider that the meeting, is in-depth, candid and constructive, and they instructed the teams of the two countries to follow up the key consensuses reached by the two leaders, to take concrete actions to push the China-US relations return to a stable track for development, and the two leaders agree to keep contacts constantly, CCTV reported.
Such remarks and the summit itself inject a certain degree of positivity into bilateral relations, which have entered a downward spiral due to the US’ ever widening containment strategy against China, and especially after the provocative visit by US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to the island of Taiwan, Chinese analysts noted, calling on the US to stay true to its pledges to avoid confrontation.
The stakes for the summit, which took place one day before the G20 Leaders’ Summit was set to kick off in Bali, couldn’t be any higher, as the world, with growing concerns over the state of the world’s most consequential bilateral relationship, watched intently for any positive signs that the two countries will try to work toward lowering tensions and cooperate on global issues.
After a handshake, the two leaders walked into a spacious room together and delivered opening remarks that lasted over six minutes, with both stressing the importance of the face-to-face meeting.
Xi said that though the two leaders have maintained communication via video-conferences, phone calls and letters, but none of these can really take the place of face-to-face exchanges, according to the Xinhua News Agency.
Xi expounded on the 20th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC) and its key outcomes, pointing out that the domestic and foreign policies of the CPC and the Chinese government are open and transparent, with clearly stated and transparent strategic intentions and great continuity and stability.
China is advancing the rejuvenation of the Chinese nation on all fronts through a Chinese path to modernization, basing our efforts on the goal of meeting people’s aspirations for a better life, unswervingly pursuing reform and opening-up, and promoting the building of an open global economy, Xi said.
For his part, Biden also said that there was “no substitute” for such face-to-face meetings, according to video footage carried by several media outlets.
Biden said to Xi in front of the press before the close-door meeting that “China and the US can manage our differences, prevent competition from becoming anything ever near conflict, and to find ways to work together on urgent global issues that require our mutual cooperation.”
“The world expects, I believe, China and the US to play key roles in addressing global challenges,” he said.
The meeting on Monday took place at the request of the US side at the Mulia Resort in Bali overlooking the Pacific Ocean. China Media Group said that the meeting was held at the hotel where the Chinese delegation to the G20 stayed.
According to the readout released by the White House, Biden remained tough on topics that are China’s internal affairs, including Taiwan, Hong Kong, Xinjiang and Xizang (Tibet). Chinese analysts said the US has failed to realize that it was its unilateral, arrogant and hostile strategy against China that put bilateral ties in risk of spiraling out of control and toward direct conflict, and in the future, the risk of confrontation between the two great powers will still exist if the US refuses to change its arrogant attitude and hostile strategy.
China-US relations should not be a zero-sum game where one side out-competes or thrives at the expense of the other, Xi said. The successes of China and the US are opportunities, not challenges, for each other. The world is big enough for the two countries to develop themselves and prosper together, he added.
The two sides should form a correct perception of each other’s domestic and foreign policies and strategic intentions, Xi said, adding that China-US interactions should be defined by dialogue and win-win cooperation, not confrontation and zero-sum competition.
Chinese analysts said the Xi-Biden summit sent a positive signal to the world that even though tensions exist, the world’s two biggest economies remain in communication and share the consensus of avoiding direct conflict, and are also trying to seek the possibility of cooperation.
Redlines and guardrails
Ahead of the meeting with Xi, Biden and the US side released information to the press that they are trying to build “floor” or “guardrails” for US-China ties in the first face-to-face talk with the Chinese leader, in other words, the US side wants to show that they are making efforts to prevent bilateral relations from going out of control, analysts said.
However, the US is the one that should be held responsible for the worsening of the tensions, as its strategy for “competition,” confrontation in fact, has seriously undermined China’s sovereignty on sensitive issues like the Taiwan question and China’s development in science and technology, especially in the semiconductor industry, so China is also using the chance to “draw redlines” for the US, warning the opportunists and hawkish politicians in Washington about the danger of challenging China’s core interests, experts said.
Xi gave a full account of the origin of the Taiwan question and China’s principled position. He stressed that the Taiwan question is at the very core of China’s core interests, the bedrock of the political foundation of China-US relations, and the first red line that must not be crossed in China-US relations.
Anyone that seeks to split Taiwan from China will be violating the fundamental interests of the Chinese nation, Xi said, adding that the Chinese people will absolutely not let that happen.
China hopes to see, and are all along committed to, peace and stability across the Taiwan Straits, but cross-Straits peace and stability and “Taiwan independence” are as irreconcilable as water and fire, Xi said, expressing hope that the US side will match its words with action and abide by the one-China policy and the three joint communiques.
Xi said “President Biden has said on many occasions that the US does not support ‘Taiwan independence’ and has no intention to use Taiwan as a tool to seek advantages in competition with China or to contain China. China hopes that the US side will act on this assurance to real effect.”
Jin Canrong, associate dean of the School of International Studies at the Renmin University of China, told the Global Times that “the US will continue to provoke China on the Taiwan question. After the midterm elections, Republicans are set to take the House, and the new Republican House speaker will very likely follow what Pelosi has done to visit the island, to show that Republicans dare to be tough against China.”
Apart from this, the two major US parties will push the Taiwan Policy Act to keep forcing the White House to abandon strategic ambiguity on the Taiwan question, and this will then bring a new round of serious impacts on China-US relations, Jin said.
“So it’s important for the Chinese leader to warn the US side again about where the redline is and what would happen if the US crosses the redline. This is how China is making efforts to prevent direct conflict while the US is being provocative,” the anonymous expert said.
Biden reaffirmed that a stable and prosperous China is good for the US and the world, saying that the US respects China’s system, and does not seek to change it.
The US does not seek a new Cold War, does not seek to revitalize alliances against China, does not support “Taiwan independence,” does not support “two Chinas” or “one China, one Taiwan,” and has no intention to have a conflict with China, he said, adding that the US side has no intention to seek “decoupling” from China, to halt China’s economic development, or to contain China.
Seeking or exploring possibilities for cooperation is a way to prevent conflict, experts said. In fact, China and the US share common ground in many aspects, from climate change to the nuclear issue in the Korean Peninsula and Iran, as well as handling the COVID-19 pandemic, the Ukraine crisis and dealing with the food and energy crises, Jin said.
During the meeting, the two sides vowed to keep constant strategic communication between the diplomatic teams of the two sides, and agreed that the teams on financial affairs from the two countries would have dialogues and coordination on macroeconomic policies and trade issues. The Chinese and US leaders also agreed to make joint efforts to push the UN Climate Change Conference COP27 to reach success
The two sides also reached consensus to promote cooperation and dialogues in the fields of public health, agriculture and food security, and the two sides also agree that the people-to-people exchanges are very important, and agree to encourage the expansion of exchanges between personnel from various areas of the two countries, according to China Central Television.
Xi, Biden try to put ties back on track
By XU WEI in Bali, Indonesia | CHINA DAILY | Updated: 2022-11-15 06:54
Two sides reach consensus in key areas, commit to more exchanges after leaders meet
President Xi Jinping and United States President Joe Biden agreed on Monday to take concrete steps to put bilateral ties back on the track of stable development, as the two sides reached consensus on key issues such as climate change, trade, public health, agriculture and food security.
Both nations pledged to enable their diplomatic teams to maintain strategic communications and frequent consultations as well as dialogue and coordination on macroeconomic policies, economy and trade, according to a summary of the meeting.
They both highlighted the significance of people-to-people exchanges between China and the US, pledging to expand the exchanges in personnel in various areas.
In his opening remarks, Xi highlighted the joint responsibility he and Biden had in anchoring the future direction of bilateral relations and placing ties on the right track.
“I look forward to working with you, Mr President, to bring China-US relations back to the track of healthy and stable growth to the benefit of our two countries and the world as a whole,” Xi said.
He pointed out that the current state of China-US relations is not in the fundamental interests of the two countries and their people, and is not what the international community expects.
China-US relations should not be a zero-sum game where one side outcompetes or thrives at the expense of the other, and the success of both nations should be seen as opportunities, instead of challenges, for each other, Xi said.
The world is big enough to accommodate the respective development and common prosperity of both nations, he added.
He called upon the two sides to put each other’s domestic and foreign policies, as well as strategic intentions, in the right perspective, saying that bilateral interactions should be defined by dialogue and win-win cooperation, not confrontation and zero-sum competition.
China has never sought to reshape the current international order, or to interfere in the internal affairs of the US, and China has no intention of challenging or displacing the US, Xi said.
The two sides should respect each other, coexist in peace, pursue win-win cooperation, and work together to ensure that China-US relations move forward on the right course without losing direction or speed, or still less having a collision, Xi added.
Xi gave a full account of the origin of the Taiwan question and China’s principled position.
He stressed that the Taiwan question is at the very core of China’s core interests, the bedrock of the political foundation of China-US relations, and the first red line that must not be crossed in China-US relations. Resolving the Taiwan question is a matter for the Chinese people and China’s internal affair.
It is the common aspiration of the Chinese people and nation to realize national reunification and safeguard territorial integrity, Xi said.
Anyone who seeks to split Taiwan from China will be violating the fundamental interests of the Chinese nation, and the Chinese people will absolutely not let that happen, said the president.
Beijing hopes to see, and has been all along committed to, peace and stability across the Taiwan Straits. However, cross-Straits peace and stability and “Taiwan independence” are as irreconcilable as water and fire, Xi said.
The president expressed hope that Washington will match its words with action and abide by the one-China policy and the three joint communiques, and the US side will act on its assurances with real effect.
Xi also explained to Biden China’s whole-process people’s democracy, saying that China has Chinese-style democracy just as the US has American-style democracy, and both fit their respective national conditions.
He said the so-called “democracy versus authoritarianism” narrative is not the defining feature of today’s world, and does not represent the trend of the times.
The president highlighted the vital importance of the two nations to recognize and respect differences in their paths and systems if they are to get along.
Neither side should try to remold the other in one’s own image, or seek to change or even subvert the other’s system, he said.
Even though the two sides have different histories, cultures, social systems and development paths, such differences should not become an obstacle to growing bilateral relations, he said.
The Chinese nation has the proud tradition of standing up for itself, and suppression and containment will only strengthen the will and boost the morale of the Chinese people, Xi said.
He stressed that starting a trade or technology war, building walls and barriers, and pushing for decoupling and severing supply chains all run counter to the principles of a market economy and undermine international trade rules.
Such attempts serve no one’s interests, Xi said.
He reiterated Beijing’s opposition to politicizing and weaponizing economic and trade ties as well as exchanges in science and technology, saying that China and the US share more, not less, common interests under current circumstances.
Xi underscored the need for both sides to promote post-COVID global recovery, tackle climate change and resolve regional issues through coordination and cooperation.
On the Ukraine issue, Xi reiterated China’s strong concern before laying out Beijing’s position.
Conflicts and wars produce no winner, and confrontation between major countries must be avoided, he said, adding that China has all along stood on the side of peace and will continue to encourage peace talks.
Beijing supports and looks forward to a resumption of peace talks between Russia and Ukraine, and China hopes that the US, NATO and the European Union will conduct comprehensive dialogues with Russia, he said.
In his remarks, Biden underscored the responsibility that he and Xi share to show that China and the US can manage differences, prevent competition from becoming near conflict, and find ways to work together on urgent, global issues that require mutual cooperation.
The US side is committed to keeping the channels of communication open between the two presidents and at all levels of government to allow candid conversations on issues they disagree on, and to strengthen necessary cooperation and play a key role in addressing climate change, food security and other important global challenges, Biden added.
He reaffirmed that a stable and prosperous China is good for the US and the world, adding that his nation respects China’s system and does not seek to change it.
He offered assurances that Washington does not seek a new Cold War or to revitalize alliances against China. The US does not support “Taiwan independence”, does not support “two Chinas” or “one China, one Taiwan”, and has no intention to have a conflict with China, he said.
He added that the US side has no intention to seek decoupling from China, to halt China’s economic development, or to contain China.