Due to growing concerns about Taiwan and Beijing’s nuclear arsenals, the US and Chinese heads of state held a virtual meeting on Monday, where Joe Biden and Xi Jinping will discuss how to prevent tensions from escalating into conflict.
The two leaders held two conference calls this year, but people familiar with the virtual conference said that both sides are lowering their expectations for the outcome of the discussion, which is not called a “summit.”
National Security Adviser Jack Sullivan said last week that the United States and China are in “stiff competition,” but there are “There is no reason to turn competition into conflict“. He said that both parties must ensure that this is indeed the case.
The biggest hot spot is Taiwan. Washington was shocked by the fact that China drove a fighter plane into the Taiwan Air Defense Identification Zone. Beijing is concerned that Biden may weaken the “one China” policy of the United States since 1979 to recognize Beijing as the sole seat of government in China.
In his speech to Asia-Pacific leaders last week, Xi Warn other countries Avoid “cold war confrontation and division.” His comments were made two months after the establishment of a security partnership between the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia to help Canberra obtain nuclear-powered submarines. This move is designed to help it strengthen its defense against China and strengthen cooperation with the United States.
On Friday, Australian Defense Minister Peter Dutton emphasized growing concerns about Taiwan, which he said was “Incredible“Canberra will not support the United States in any campaign to defend Taiwan against China.
Michael Green, a former White House senior adviser to Asia by George W Bush, said: “The facts he said aloud are new and show the extent to which China’s coercion has changed all parts of Asia. Security relationship.”
After the Pentagon warned that China would be in a virtual meeting, Biden was also expected to raise the issue of nuclear weapons. Quadrupled its nuclear warhead arsenal This decade. But China has no interest in nuclear stability negotiations, partly because the United States has more weapons.
The United States has many concerns about China, from the repression of Uyghurs and the repression of Hong Kong democracy activists to disappointment with China’s trade practices. China hopes that the United States will stop interfering in its “core” interests and return the relationship between the United States and China to a less antagonistic era.
Bonnie Glaser, a China expert at the German Marshall Fund, said: “Beijing is eager to use this summit to signal to domestic audiences and other countries that U.S.-China relations are back on track.” “But the Biden administration hopes to avoid such a situation. The Chinese see this summit as a realignment of relations.”
The leaders of both sides will hold meetings when facing major political events in the coming year.Xi Jinping will host Beijing Winter Olympics In February, and plan to get the third party general secretary term in November. Biden and the Democrats are trying to avoid losing their majority in Congress in the November midterm elections.
Myron Brilliant, head of international affairs at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, said that any progress requires “constructive pragmatism at the highest level,” but added that, given political constraints, it is not clear how to translate this into concrete action.
“The Chinese may want to cool down,” Brilliant said, “but are they willing to contribute to important issues for the Biden administration? This is a big question mark.”
Zhu Feng, an expert on foreign relations at Nanjing University, said that because of the “increasing polarization of domestic politics” between the two countries, he does not expect any substantial progress to be made at the meeting.
Zhu said: “What we can realistically expect at the summit is that the two sides once again understand each other’s bottom line.”
Biden has taken a series of actions to respond to challenges from China, from strengthening alliances in Europe and Asia, imposing sanctions on Chinese officials to describing the suppression of Uyghurs as “genocide.”
Given that Xi Jinping has not changed his course, he faces some criticism about whether he is on the right track. But US officials said that Biden is more focused on shaping the international landscape in a way that confronts China.
Carolyn Bartholomew (Carolyn Bartholomew), chairman of the US-China Economic and Security Review Commission, said that if Xi Jinping takes improving relations seriously, it is also important for Xi Jinping, not Biden, to take on more responsibility.
Bartholomew said: “Xi Jinping must view this meeting as an opportunity to respect and make specific commitments to resolve a wide range of issues of common concern to the United States and other countries.”
“[This includes] China has become increasingly aggressive towards Taiwan and Japan, and continues to adopt unfair economic and trade practices such as coercion and subsidies, human rights violations against Uighurs and other ethnic minorities, and the destruction of fundamental freedoms in Hong Kong. ”
But while emphasizing the tension between the two countries, Wu Xinbo, director of the Institute of International Studies at Fudan University, said that Washington should not have too much expectations for an increasingly confident Beijing.
“The Biden administration’s China policy has not worked so far, and the United States has realized the need for adjustment,” Wu said. “I hope China will stick to its bottom line and urge the United States to make changes.”
follow Dmitry Sevastopoulo On twitter