Finding a path to peaceful coexistence is a key task for the United States and China for the next half century. According to the Chinese Foreign Ministry, this was stated by the country’s leader Xi Jinping during online talks with US President Joe Biden. As follows from the final statements of the two sides, the meeting did not lead to breakthrough agreements – Messrs. Biden and Xi only exchanged mutual concerns on key issues, including Taiwan and economic competition. The virtual meeting, it seems, was needed only in order to reduce the degree of confrontation and show the world that the United States and China can talk. At the same time, the question of whether they can negotiate remained open.
The virtual summit took place on Monday evening in Washington and on Tuesday in Beijing. Mr. Biden and his advisers are located in the western wing of the White House in Roosevelt Hall, not far from the Oval Office. The topics discussed by the leaders could be judged by the support group of the American president. Among the officials who helped Joe Biden were Secretary of State Anthony Blinken, Treasury Chief Janet Yellen, President’s National Security Adviser Jack Sullivan. On the part of the Chinese leader, Ding Xuexiang, Head of the Chancellery of the CPC Central Committee, Li He, Vice Premier of the State Council of the People’s Republic of China (also called Xi Jinping’s chief economic adviser), Foreign Minister Wang Yi.
During the open part of the discussion, Mr. Biden noted that he is looking forward to “direct and frank discussion” with Xi Jinping. He also expressed the hope that it would be possible to converge positions on issues of “fair competition” and “constraints built on common sense”, especially “on such global issues as climate protection.” Mr. Biden also stressed that he considers the Chinese leader his friend. Xi Jinping did not remain in debt. He also stated that he was “glad to see an old friend” and stressed that humanity “faces many challenges,” therefore, “the United States and China need to strengthen ties and communication.”
The meeting lasted approximately three hours and a quarter, excluding the time allotted for the break.
According to the White House press release, the US President raised human rights issues in Xinjiang and Hong Kong, and touched upon the problems of Tibet and Taiwan. It is reported that the two leaders also exchanged views on energy supply and economy, touched upon the DPRK, Afghanistan and Iran.
In turn, the PRC Foreign Ministry noted: “The parties exchanged views on the situation in Afghanistan, Iran, on the Korean Peninsula, as well as on global and regional issues of mutual interest.”
De facto, now the PRC and the United States have disagreements in almost all spheres of interaction. So, there are problems in the economy, especially in terms of mutual duties on the import of goods and currency regulation. US Trade Representative Catherine Tai previously stated that the countries are planning to restart trade negotiations in the near future. In light of the disruption of supply chains in the United States, primarily from Asia, the issue of cooperation between the two superpowers in the field of economics is extremely acute.
As a high-ranking representative of the American administration, quoted by the TASS news agency, told reporters on condition of anonymity, President Biden during the summit called on the PRC to fulfill the terms of the trade deal with the United States. In turn, Xi Jinping made it clear that the responsibility for the crisis lies with the United States. “Trade and economic relations between China and the United States are mutually beneficial in nature, business is business. There is no need to politicize the issues of Sino-American trade and economic relations, Xi Jinping said on the Chinese Foreign Ministry’s website.
In the field of military cooperation, the PRC and the United States have even more contradictions. Although China denies information from the American media, citing intelligence about alleged tests of the latest hypersonic weapons, the United States political establishment took it seriously. According to American experts, such technologies can create problems not only in the Asia-Pacific region, where the danger of a direct clash between the United States and China over Taiwan is increasing, but also for the missile defense system of the United States itself.
In this regard, the issue of differences in views of the two countries on the future of Taiwan came to the fore. Shortly before the summit, Joe Biden recalled the US guarantees of Taiwan’s sovereignty and protection. In turn, the PRC sees Taiwan as an integral part of its territory, and any interaction of the United States with it as a sovereign state is very painful for Beijing. It was not possible to bring the positions closer together. “A new round of aggravation of the situation in the Taiwan Strait was caused by new attempts by the Taiwanese administration, relying on the United States, to gain independence, as well as by the attempts of some people in the United States to contain China with the help of Taiwan,” Xi Jinping said at the talks, as follows from the publication on the website of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. At the same time, the leader of the People’s Republic of China warned Joe Biden: “We are showing patience and maximum sincerity, we are making every effort for the prospect of peaceful unification. However, if the separatist forces advocating the independence of Taiwan force us with their provocations or they cross the red line, then we will have to take decisive measures. ” And allied relations between Taiwan and the United States, as Xi Jinping made it clear, will not hinder this in the least.
It is curious that against the backdrop of the US-China summit, the United States and its key ally in Asia, Japan, have worked out joint actions in the South China Sea against the submarines of the imaginary enemy. From the United States side, one destroyer and a P-8A anti-submarine patrol aircraft participated in the maneuvers. It is reported that this is the first time that Japan has sent a submarine into the South China Sea for joint exercises with the United States. Japanese television channel NHK claims that such actions are aimed at containing China in the region.
Summing up the results of the meeting, both Washington and Beijing recognize that the very fact of negotiations and the disposition for further interaction are of key importance. “The most important thing is that both sides expressed their willingness to cooperate and took action to create a favorable atmosphere, having held a fruitful meeting,” said, in particular, the official representative of the Chinese Foreign Ministry Zhao Lijian. Then he added that the Chinese authorities have no special illusions about the prospects for the development of relations with the United States. In this regard, Xi Jinping, as follows from the statement on the website of the Chinese Foreign Ministry, made it clear that Beijing is not going to force events. “The most important development in international relations over the past 50 years has been the restoration and development of Sino-US relations. They have benefited two countries and the whole world.
In the next 50 years, the most important achievement in the field of international relations will be that China and the United States will definitely find the right way to coexist, ”the Chinese leader said at the summit.
In the United States, however, the situation is not assessed by such time intervals. Relations with the PRC are now one of the most pressing topics of the political struggle. Due to the crisis in relations with China, the White House is being sharply criticized by Republican opponents, who are taking advantage of the situation on the eve of the upcoming congressional elections. For example, Nikki Haley, the former US ambassador to the UN, who held this post under Republican President Donald Trump, on the eve of the summit described the current US relations with China as a “manifestation of weakness” by the Biden administration. But the representative of the former Democratic administration Winston Lord – ex-Assistant Secretary of State for East Asia and Pacific Affairs under President Bill Clinton – turned out to be, like most other Democrats, not so categorical. In an interview with Politico, he stated: “Both sides acknowledge that they have real differences, that they are going to compete, but it is very important to remain peaceful (of this competition.— “B”), keep within certain limits and not go to war. “
In a conversation with Kommersant, Dakota Wood, a senior researcher at the Heritage Foundation’s Washington discussion platform, expressed the opinion that the key differences between Beijing and Washington are unlikely to be resolved: the positions of the United States and China are too far apart to hope for a settlement. He emphasized that it is difficult to expect breakthroughs, for example, in terms of a comprehensive investigation into the origin of COVID-19, on which the United States insists, in matters of the Iranian program and the situation in Myanmar, in the DPRK and Iran. The expert added: the very fact that the summit was held virtually, and not personally in Washington, indicates that the United States is talking with China “not from a position of strength.” Another confirmation of this: the Chinese leader did not take the opportunity to speak with the American president face to face at the recent G20 summit, but stayed at home.
“China really has no incentive to negotiate, since the US has nothing to offer and there is nothing that could challenge Beijing,” the source assured Kommersant.
Then he made a prediction, saying that the last online meeting was more a demonstration of the US’s ability to conduct diplomatic negotiations with the Chinese leader, and not the beginning of productive interaction.