Xi Jinping Biden On Taiwan: Xi Jinping Biden Meeting Is Cordial But Will Anything Change Between The Superpowers
Summit diplomacy between the US and China continues but there will be no more fruitful meeting between the two leaders than the latest talks between Joe Biden and Xi Jinping. If one wants to see how much the relationship between the US and China has changed, one has to look at the first summit since the Chinese Revolution in 1972 between Richard Nixon and the then ailing Mao Zedong. No one would have guessed that within a generation there would be a strategic competition between the two countries.
Nor would he have foreseen China’s progress in economic growth to become the world’s second largest economy. The framework for US-China summits was set in 1972 with the signing of the Shanghai Declaration between Nixon and the then Prime Minister of China, Chou Enlai. In this the ‘one-China’ policy was accepted and the issue of Taiwan was sidelined. In an online meeting with Xi Jinping, Biden reiterated America’s acceptance of a “one China” policy, but also reiterated Washington’s stand that the status quo in the Taiwan Strait should not be changed by force.
Biden and Xi could at least get the relationship back on track
It is too early to talk about reshaping US-China relations, but a logical conclusion is that Biden and Xi have at least been able to get ties back on track after Trump’s chaotic administration. Comments from both the sides on the meeting which lasted for more than three and a half hours indicate that a lot of issues were discussed. Both countries emphasized the need to continue the dialogue. According to a White House release, “President Biden emphasized that the United States will stand up for its interests and values and, together with its allies and partners, ensure that the rules for the 21st century move forward on an international order.” be based that is free, open and fair.
From Australia’s point of view, this expression of support for ‘allies and partners’ would be welcome given the poor relationship between Canberra and Beijing. Biden also called for greater cooperation to avoid potential conflicts. President Biden also stressed the importance of managing strategic risks. He also stressed on the need to ensure that competition does not turn into conflict. China made the statement through Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying, saying the meeting was “comprehensive, thorough, clear, meaningful, concrete and constructive”. Chinese state media quoted Xi Jinping as a “new era” in which “the principles of mutual respect, peaceful coexistence and mutual cooperation based on the benefits of both should be followed.”
Xi Jinping calls Biden an ‘old friend’
The statements by Biden and Xi indicate a desire to improve relations through more dialogue. Biden’s remarks before the start of the meeting suggest that he is keen to establish a less combative relationship. “As leaders of China and the United States, it appears to be our responsibility to ensure that the competition between our countries does not, knowingly or unintentionally, turn into conflict, but simply a clear competition,” he said. Xi described Biden as an “old friend” and expressed his desire to “work closely with you, Mr. President, to build consensus, take proactive steps and move China-US relations in a positive direction.”
In a complex world in which both the US and China are facing major challenges domestically, it is not in the interest of either of them to complicate relations. The agreement between the US and China to work constructively toward climate goals at the recent COP26 climate summit is an example of a collaborative partnership that serves each other’s interests. Nothing can be said about the change in relations between the two countries.
The most worrying thing is China’s continuous construction of military structures
The most worrying thing for America and its allies is the issue of China’s constantly building military infrastructure. This includes its nuclear arsenal and the development of space-capable hypersonic missiles that would seriously threaten US military dominance in the Indo-Pacific. There are many reasons why relationships can be less contentious. But at the same time there are many arguments as to why the deepening and growing differences are such that there is a risk of a deteriorating relationship.
(Tony Walker, Vice Chancellor’s Fellow, La Trobe University)
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