Xi and Biden Move To Break the Ice in Relations, But Will It Be More than Words?
Nov. 14, 2022 (EIRNS)—A three-and-a-half hour meeting between U.S. President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping may have gone some way in helping to break the ice in the U.S.-China relationship. In spite of the frosty relationship that has developed over the last few months, with the U.S. asserting its right of hegemony in all sorts of fields, including overt provocations on the all-important Taiwan issue, the meeting seemed to be quite cordial and extensive. President Xi was quite forthcoming, focusing his introductory remarks on the need of the two countries to work together for the benefit of the world.
According to a semi-official account published by Xinhua, President Xi presented the results of the 20th Party Congress and the intention of the Chinese nation to realize its rejuvenation in order to realize the people’s yearning for a better life. He said that China will continue to maintain an independent foreign policy of peace and decide its own position and attitude based on the merits of the matter, and advocates peaceful settlement of disputes. China adheres to safeguarding the UN-centered system and international law and promotes the building of a community with a shared future for mankind. U.S.-China relations should be viewed from above and should not be a zero-sum game where one wins and one loses. The vast Earth can fully accommodate the development and common prosperity of China and the United States. He reiterated that China does not want to replace the United States and never seeks to change the existing international order.
Xi also “systematically expounded” on the origin of the Taiwan issue and China’s principled position. He underlined that this was a core interest of China in eventual reunification, and that China wanted to maintain peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait, but that “Taiwan independence” was absolutely unacceptable. He stressed that “the Taiwan question is at the very core of China’s core interests, the bedrock of the political foundation of China-U.S. relations, and the first red line that must not be crossed in China-U.S. relations,” Xinhua reported. Xi also stressed that the two countries have different systems and different systems of democracies, and opposed the narrative of “democracy vs. autocracy” which he said was not in line with the trend of the times. He also insisted on China’s opposition to “building walls” and the push for “decoupling.”
Biden, according to the same Xinhua account, congratulated Xi on his election as General Secretary of the CPC Central Committee and said that the two powers have the responsibility to maintain a constructive relationship. He said that a stable and developing China is in the interests of the United States and the world, and that the United States respects China’s system and does not seek to change it. In addition the U.S. does not seek a new Cold War nor will it oppose China by strengthening alliances. He reiterated that the U.S. does not support “Taiwan independence” or support the notion of “two Chinas” or “one China, one Taiwan” and it does not seek to decouple from China. The U.S. government does not seek to use the Taiwan issue as a tool to contain, and hopes to see peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait.
The Chinese readout did not mention the fact that Biden also broached the issues of Xinjiang and Tibet, which the White House readout did. The White House also said that “President Biden raised Russia’s brutal war against Ukraine and Russia’s irresponsible threats of nuclear use”—whereas the Chinese are well aware that the nuclear threats have been coming from the United States, and have been directed against both Russia and China.
The two sides agreed to maintain regular dialogue at the higher levels of government and President Biden is sending Secretary of State Blinken to Beijing as a first step in that process. Summits between the Presidents have always helped to cool down the tensions, which usually get quickly ratcheted up soon by statements on other levels. The important statements made by the Presidents at the summits, however, always serve as a point of reference for China when other officials start to speak in another voice. The fact that the two sides have decided on a regular exchange of officials gives some hope that the relationship will not go off the rails, but, as the Xinhua account reported, Xi expressed hope “that the U.S. side will match its words with action.”