Prof. ST Hsieh
Director, US-China Energy Industry Forum
September 28, 2023
The tone of the following news report from Wall Street Journal (WSJ) seems to be over optimistic about an Xi-Biden Summit in 2023. If it were to happen, the only feasible timeframe is during the 2023 APEC Leadership Week: November 11-17 in San Fransico, which is about 40 days away. The looming Federal Government lock down, which is about 48 hours away, would definitely interrupt the coordination of any summit.
Other than the short timeframe for the summit, what concessions that Biden will or can offer to Xi for his time/effort? China has consistently demanded that the US show “sincerity” by actions for improving the US-China relation. Both the US and China understand each other’s bottom line well. But Biden’s options are very limited: whatever he says or does at the Xi-Biden summit will be openly criticized by GOP. It will be one more election issue, other than his age and inflation, for Biden as the US general election is heating up.
For Xi, a US trip must be worthy of his time: substance as well as formality. A trip to the San Francisco for a multilateral conference, but not be able to visit DC as the guest of President Biden does not look very good. Modi, Kishida, Yoon, Zelenskyy, and many leaders from small Pacific Island nations have been hosted by President Biden at the White House or Camp David. A summit as a sideline meeting at APEC, just seems so “light!”
On the other hand, the US public opinion is against China and even Biden called Xi a “dictator.” How can Biden assure that Xi will have a pleasant trip to the US? Or, looking at the public opinion polls in the US, Xi may have to take a safe bet that Trump may win the election in 2024: that will be a new ball game for everyone!
U.S., China Talks Gain Momentum, Paving Way for Xi-Biden Summit
Governments discuss Washington visits by a senior Chinese economic-policy official and the foreign minister
Updated Sept. 28, 2023 11:32 am ET
Beijing and Washington are paving the way for Chinese leader Xi Jinping to visit the U.S., moving ahead with high-level official exchanges and taking other steps to improve the tone of their turbulent relations.
Both sides are discussing a trip to Washington by Xi’s top economic-policy aide, Vice Premier He Lifeng, according to people briefed on the matter. He would be the most-senior official to travel to the U.S. since President Biden took office. Meantime, planning is also under way for Foreign Minister Wang Yi to visit Washington in October to prepare for a Xi summit with Biden, the people said.
China facilitated the transfer this week of an American soldier from North Korean custody, U.S. officials said. National security adviser Jake Sullivan had raised the soldier’s case in a meeting 10 days ago with Wang, the officials said.
The latest developments push forward the momentum both governments have been trying to create after months of across-the-board tensions and suggest an increased likelihood that Xi will attend a summit of Asia-Pacific leaders to be held in San Francisco in November. Beyond that gathering, Beijing is seeking a separate high-profile summit with Biden, something both governments see as a potential boost to the months of tentative efforts to stabilize ties.
Progress in relations remains tentative, with deep-seated suspicion and entrenched differences on most issues. Disagreements could boil over and scuttle a summit or visits by other senior Chinese officials. In a new worry, U.S. officials are concerned a government shutdown would further delay planning for the meetings or the summit.
Beijing is continuing to build its alignment with Moscow to counter Washington and its allies. Russian President Vladimir Putin will meet with Xi in October in Beijing when it hosts a high-level forum on Xi’s signature Belt and Road infrastructure program, a massive initiative aimed at expanding China’s influence across Asia, Africa and Latin America. The forum will be held on Oct. 17 and 18, people familiar with the matter said.
“Both sides will continue taking actions they believe are justified and that the other could interpret as provocative,” said Ryan Hass, director of the China Center at the Brookings Institution think tank in Washington and a former adviser on China and Asia under the Obama administration. “If these visits by senior Chinese officials materialize, the odds of a leader-level meeting will continue to rise.”
China has in recent weeks played hard-to-get to try to extract leverage. Chinese officials have criticized the U.S. administration for refusing to invite China’s handpicked governor of Hong Kong—who has enforced a national security crackdown on the territory—to the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum, as has been past custom.
This year’s APEC meeting “should be a major stage to promote cooperation, not a battleground to provoke confrontation,” Wang, the foreign minister, said at a briefing in Beijing on Tuesday. “As the host, the United States should realize its responsibilities, show due openness, fairness, tolerance and responsibility and create better conditions for the smooth holding of the meeting.”
On GOP debate stage, a sometimes oversimplified view of China’s economy
Analysis by Michelle Toh and Luciana Lopez, CNN
Thu, September 28, 2023 at 5:12 AM PDT
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis called for “decoupling” the US economy from China. Vivek Ramaswamy said: “We need to declare independence from China.” And North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum said the US is “in a cold war with China.”
DeSantis Vows a ‘Hard Power’ Approach Toward China in Republican Debate
Ryan Teague Beckwith
Wed, September 27, 2023 at 7:45 PM PDT
(Bloomberg) — Florida Governor Ron DeSantis invoked former President Ronald Reagan in the Republican debate on Wednesday, arguing that he would follow a “hard power” approach to China.
DeSantis said he’s concerned about China’s military and economic outreach in Latin America, and he touted controversial policies in his state to prevent Chinese citizens from buying land, saying it should be applied nationwide.