Prof. ST Hsieh
Director, US-China Energy Industry Forum
November 13, 2023
We wish both President Biden and President Xi listen to the “regular people” rather than the politicians. US and China are fundamentally two different nations, thus both people have to learn from each other. It will take time and good patience. However, lately the US and China became bitter rivalries to the extent that military confrontations are real risks. As the US facing two regional wars already, there is no option for Biden to intentionally challenge Xi for another war far away from the US. So, re-establishing the high-level military direct communication is very desirable.
But the important lesson that must be learned is that how the communication mechanism was lost, so that we do not have to re-invent the wheel again. In fact, the most challenging issue facing Biden and Xi is how to restore or re-stabilize the bilateral trade relations. Again, their governments have to learn from the past: how did the US-China trade war got started and its real impacts?
Because the US and China are two different nations, the true anchor of stable bilateral relation is long-term broad-based people-to-people interactions. Politicians come and go, but people carry on. For too long, politicians have taken the lead in public opinion and driving the issues including wars!
This summit probably means a lot more for Biden than Xi. Because Biden has to play host for APEC leaders, and he faces a bleak reelection bid in a year. But if Biden listens to his own people and has their supports, this summit could be a turning point for Biden. On the other hand, if Biden fumbles badly without forced errors, he should leave his reelection bid behind and focus on his legacy of one-term presidency.
Farmers, academics, advocates urge Biden, Xi to calm US-China tensions
A broad range of American industry, academic and community groups are urging President Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping to offer public reassurances that Washington and Beijing are lowering the temperature of the fraught relationship when the leaders meet Wednesday in California.
In an open letter, professional groups representing farmers, educators, workers, scientists, climate advocates, veterans and more call for Biden and Xi to commit to “the sustained reduction of dangerous frictions in bilateral relations, and to energetic Sino-American cooperation on issues central to the preservation of the planet, peace, and prosperity.”
The letter serves as a statement of support for Biden’s pursuit of diplomacy with China in the face of a more hawkish position, largely from Republicans but also some Democrats. The signatories are encouraging the president to promote cooperation with Beijing and deprioritize militarization and punitive actions.
The White House is billing the San Francisco meeting as a consequential opportunity to inject stability into the relationship. The president will push Xi to reestablish military-to-military communication channels that Beijing severed in opposition to a visit by then-Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) to Taiwan in August 2022. The resumption of a direct line between America’s and China’s militaries is meant to serve as a key accomplishment toward lowering tensions between the countries.
The U.S. views China as America’s most potent competitor to a democratically led global order, with Beijing building up its military, stifling freedoms domestically, and supporting bad actors globally.
A record level of Americans (58 percent) view China’s development as a world power as a critical threat to the vital interests of the U.S., marking the highest level recorded in a survey by the Chicago Council of Global Affairs since it started tracking the opinion in 1990.
Still, the Biden administration has prioritized diplomacy with Beijing, and that has drawn fierce criticism from Republicans who say a much tougher stance should be taken. Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley criticized Biden as having “begged” to meet with Xi.
But the letter signatories are raising the alarm that fraught U.S.-China relations are having a negative effect on key areas of economic, scientific and cultural cooperation.
“Our constituents benefit from, and expect their governments to maintain, a stable and productive bilateral relationship. Continued hostile rhetoric from prominent figures in both the United States and China contributes to this alarming deterioration of relations,” the letter reads.
The letter was organized by the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft, a Washington-based think tank that pushes for prioritizing diplomacy over the buildup of military infrastructure it views as provocative. The organization refers to itself as “transpartisan.”
“What we wanted to do here is sort of deviate from the rhetoric from Capitol Hill that would suggest there’s just a full consensus that China must be vilified, demonized, excluded at every turn,” said Elizabeth Beavers, vice president for public affairs at the Quincy Institute.
“We wanted President Biden and lawmakers alike, really, to know that this is not the case. There is not a consensus and in fact, multiple sectors of American society rely on a stable, healthy US-China relationship.”
There are 34 groups signed onto the letter.
Among them include Farmers For Free Trade, an advocacy organization that calls for free international trade or equitable trade agreements. For farmers in the U.S., China is the largest recipient of American agriculture exports, reaching a value of $36.4 billion in 2022.
Steven Noah, president of Farmers for Free Trade, said that even as his organization advocates for diversifying customers, China is a market that cannot be ignored.
“We think it’s very important we keep the door open to talk with them. We think negotiations have to be fair but firm. We believe they also have to be deliberate and thoughtful.”
Another signatory is the Asian Pacific Islander American Public Affairs (APAPA), a national organization with chapters in California and D.C. that advocates for the Asian-Pacific Islander community. The group was founded in 2001 in part by CC Yin, an immigrant from China to the U.S. who worked as an engineer, has franchised McDonald’s, and owns a ranch with his wife that they rent out for events and weddings.
“APAPA signed onto this letter because it is important to ensure we are part of the conversation because our voices matter,” Yin said in a statement to The Hill.
“U.S.-China relations have faced more challenges in recent years. With the Chinese president’s visit to California, it marks a unique opportunity to strengthen, stabilize, and explore opportunities for cooperation in addressing global issues for both powerhouse countries,” Yin continued.
Dr. Yawei Liu, editor-in-chief of the U.S.-China Perception Monitor at The Carter Center, is also a signatory to the letter. The online publication produces content in English and Chinese aimed at promoting understanding between the U.S. and China and aimed at “reducing misperceptions” in both countries, Liu told The Hill in a statement.
“President Carter and his Chinese counterpart Deng Xiaoping made the momentous decision to normalize diplomatic relations between the U.S. and China almost 45 years ago. They two agreed to shelf differences and found ways to cooperate,” Liu wrote.
“That legacy is endangered now,” he continued, and said both countries appear on a path that could lead to conflict and confrontation.
“This slide needs to be stopped.”
President Joseph R. Biden
The White House Washington, D.C.
H. E. President Xi Jinping In Care of the Embassy of the People’s Republic of China Washington, D.C.
November 13, 2023
Dear President Biden and President Xi, As the date of your expected personal meeting in San Francisco approaches, we write to express our sincere hopes for a cordial and productive discussion, and deep concerns over current trends in Sino-American relations. After decades of comprehensive expansion of mutually beneficial relations – despite moments of friction – between the United States and China, our bilateral relations have severely deteriorated in recent years, and your two countries now appear to be following a path that could lead to conflict and confrontation that is in neither country’s interests. When you meet in San Francisco, we respectfully urge you to make clear, both in private and publicly, your shared commitment to the sustained reduction of dangerous frictions in bilateral relations, and to energetic Sino-American cooperation on issues central to the preservation of the planet, peace, and prosperity. Our organizations represent a wide range of American constituencies with direct stakes in the future of the U.S.-China relationship – farmers, educators, workers, scientists, climate advocates, veterans and more, across the face of America and the political spectrum. Our constituents benefit from, and expect their governments to maintain, a stable and productive bilateral relationship. Continued hostile rhetoric from prominent figures in both the United States and China contributes to this alarming deterioration of relations. Pursuit of more stable and productive bilateral ties depends on initiatives at the very apex of our nations’ governments. A single meeting will not instantly redirect the course of those ties. It must, however, send an unmistakable signal that the United States and the People’s Republic of China will exert focused efforts to shift the trajectory of bilateral relations into more positive, and less threatening, channels. As you lead the nations’ recommitment to that essential goal, we can assure you of our strong support.
21st Century China Center at UC San Diego School of Global Policy and Strategy
America China Public Affairs
Institute American Friends Service Committee
APA Justice Task Force
Asian American Academy of Science and Engineering
Asian Pacific Islander American Public Affairs (APAPA)
Campaign for Peace, Disarmament and Common Security Church of the Brethren, Office of Peacebuilding and Policy
Committee for a Sane U.S. China Policy CommonDefense.us
Farmers for Free Trade
Global Labor Justice – International Labor Rights Forum
Institute for Policy Studies,
National Priorities Project Justice Is Global
National Asian American United
Pax Christi USA
Peace Action Physicians for Social Responsibility
Pivot to Peace
Project on Government Oversight Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft
Society of Chinese Bioscientists in America (SCBA) Sojourners
The 1990 Institute
The China Project
The Serica Initiative
United Chinese Americans (UCA)
U.S.-China Education Trust
U.S. Heartland China Association
U.S.-China Perception Monitor,
The Carter Center Veterans For Peace
World BEYOND War