US and Chinese leaders decided to hold a virtual summit in a difficult situation

US and Chinese leaders Joe Biden and Xi Jinping decided to hold a virtual summit on Monday amid growing tensions between Washington and Beijing. The talks have been called the most informative in US-China relations since the current President of the United States took office, even before they began.

Photo: Still from video

Joe Biden and Xi Jinping will hold a virtual summit on Monday designed to stop or at least slow down the downward spiral in US-China relations, writes The Guardian.

As the British newspaper reminds, the leaders of the two countries spoke twice on phone since Biden took office in January, but this videoconference should be their most significant discussion to date.

The virtual summit is being held just days after the US and China surprised analysts by agreeing to expand their climate cooperation in Glasgow. But negotiations are also taking place at a time of growing tensions over Taiwan, the most dangerous potential flashpoint between the two powers. On Tuesday, the People's Liberation Army held the latest in a series of combat readiness exercises off the Taiwanese coast, and on Saturday, the country's top diplomats exchanged warnings about the situation around the island in a telephone conversation.

Reuters reported that Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi told US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken that any show of support for Taiwan's independence was a “ boomerang '' will turn out to be for the USA. Blinken, in turn, expressed concern about the growing “ military, diplomatic and economic pressure '' China to the island.

US accusations of repeated cyberattacks by China, deep human rights divisions in Xinjiang, Hong Kong and Tibet, and protracted trade disputes have also contributed to the relentless deterioration of relations between Washington and Beijing.

The United States is disappointed that China is hampering a multilateral investigation into the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic, and outraged by Chinese government pressure on US companies to lobby in Congress to waive legislation that Beijing does not like, Reuters reported Friday.

The stakes have risen due to the rapid expansion of China's military capabilities, including its nuclear arsenal, The Guardian notes. According to US data, Beijing has tested a new weapon – a hypersonic glider with a nuclear charge launched from orbit, and China is reportedly building at least 250 new silos for long-range missiles.

Expectations for the summit are rather low. The Guardian. A joint statement is unlikely to be made at the end of the meeting, and the White House indicated that Biden will not answer questions from the press after the conclusion of the talks.

“ In general, both in Washington and in Beijing, expectations of a rapprochement of positions are practically dead. Instead, the relationship has become more business-like, ”says Scott Moore, director of China programs and strategic initiatives at the University of Pennsylvania. – & nbsp; Biden is facing political problems at home with the midterm elections coming up (next year). Therefore, he is likely to face political constraints in taking any action that might be perceived or characterized as significant concessions to China. For Xi, the biggest vulnerability is the economic front. This is why Beijing is demonstrating its interest in making progress in trade. Recent comments from Biden administration officials indicate interest in addressing these issues, but again, serious political constraints are likely to arise. ''

Both leaders will seek to limit the danger of the rivalry spiraling out of control, The Guardian notes.

In a message to the National Committee on US-China Relations, Xi Jinping said that bilateral relations are at a “ critical historical juncture. '' “ Both countries will benefit from cooperation and lose from confrontation. Collaboration is the only right choice, '' Xi said in a statement.

In his message at the committee's celebratory event on November 9, Biden also pointed to a “ watershed moment in history '': “ From the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic to the elimination of the real threat of the climate crisis, the relationship between the United States and China is of global importance. ''

White House spokesman Jen Psaki said Biden would be “ clear and straightforward '' voice Washington's concerns, but will look for ways to “ manage competition responsibly '' between the world's two largest economies, and will strive to “ work together where our interests coincide. ''

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said Monday's summit could be a turning point in efforts to improve the trajectory of bilateral relations: “ Both sides must meet halfway … to ensure a smooth and successful meeting and put China-US relations back on the path of healthy and stable development. ''

Xi Jinping will seek to prevent steps to boycott the Winter Olympics in China this year, and is expected to invite Biden to the games as a conciliatory gesture as well.

But Taiwan is likely to be Xi's focus. especially after a series of steps taken by the Biden administration to raise Taiwan's status, which China sees as a break with Washington's long-standing “ one China policy '' recognizing the People's Republic of China & nbsp; as China's sole sovereign government.

“ The increasingly provocative actions of the United States continue to add uncertainty. The Taiwan issue will be addressed, and a warning from China will follow at the highest level not to bring the Taiwan issue to the brink of confrontation, '' Lü Xiang, Research Fellow at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times.

Bonnie Glazer, director of the German Marshall Fund's Asia Program in the United States, said Beijing is worried about whether the Biden administration is actually pursuing its policy of one China. “They want to hear more reassurances about what the US will and will not do with Taiwan,” she said.

The American side will insist on more regular contacts between defense and diplomatic agencies, but Xi Jinping, is likely to resist any action that, in its opinion, normalizes the role of the United States in the immediate vicinity of China.

On nuclear arms control, Beijing has so far resisted any approach to entering into bilateral negotiations and rejected Donald Trump's attempts to start trilateral negotiations with Russia.

“ Unfortunately, I don't think this will be the main topic of the meeting. The United States has not offered anything that China can talk about, and China does not like to negotiate outside the UN, predicts Gregory Kulacki, head of the Chinese project for the Union of Concerned Scientists. – & nbsp; They could make some vague statement about the desire to stop the nuclear arms race, but something concrete coming out of this seems unlikely. ''


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