US President Joe Biden. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
The long-awaited meeting between United States President Joe Biden and China’s President Xi Jinping in San Francisco on 15 November was a success for China.
China indicated that the China-American bilateral relationship is the most significant relationship in the world and the two economic giants should constantly find ways to work together for the sake of global peace and human development. Xi was courteous and respectful but Biden was an embarrassment with his careless reference to Xi as a dictator, with no justification whatsoever.
After that meeting both sides issued a statement highlighting details of what was discussed. This included China’s emphasis on peace and mutual prosperity for the two countries and that turning their backs on each other is not an option.
Xi pointed out that the Earth is big enough for both countries to succeed, and that one country’s success is an opportunity for the other. Most importantly, the Chinese president denounced any form of conflict or confrontation warning that such would have unbearable consequences on both sides.
Evidently Xi did not mince his words when he stated that there are only two options faced by China and the US in this era of global change: enhanced solidarity and cooperation to meet global challenges and promote security and prosperity or clinging to the zero-sum mentality provoking rivalry and confrontation and driving the world to turmoil and division. It appears that such blatant and honest suggestions did not sit well with Biden, as shown by his attacks and name calling of Xi Jinping a few hours after their meeting. The truth is that the two options presented by China are the most realistic and feasible alternatives for the two superpowers. We can only hope that both the US and China will choose the first option, for their sake and for the sake of the world at large.
Regarding the US’s narrative of the meeting, Biden emphasised that China and the US are in competition with each other and that the US will continue to invest in the sources of America’s strength at home, while supporting its partners and allies around the world. He further stated that the US will always stand up for its interests and its values, and that of its allies, suggesting that the world expects the US and China to manage competition responsibly and prevent conflict, confrontation or the new cold war.
The White House communique also states that the two leaders agreed on the need to address the risks of advanced artificial intelligence systems and improve AI safety.
Another important issue the two sides discussed extensively and was amplified by Biden was curbing the flow of fentanyl. Biden says China’s agreement to reduce precursor chemicals for fentanyl would “save lives.”
The two sides agreed to restore high-level military communication, with Biden saying “We’re back to direct, open, clear, direct communications.” This is perhaps a much-needed development, considering all the military tension in the South China Sea and over Taiwan.
The US president discussed America’s commitment to defending its Indo-Pacific allies. He also reaffirmed his commitment to Ukraine’s defence against Russia’s “aggression”. He also pointed out that the US supports Israel regarding its attack on Gaza. On the issue of Taiwan, the US commander-in-chief reiterated America’s support for the one China policy during the talks with Xi.
During the meeting the US accused China of unfair trade policies, non-market economic practices and punitive actions against American firms in China. China responded by accusing the US of its economic sanctions against China.
In the final analysis, China’s interest is a win-win situation for all; which entails cooperation, peaceful co-existence and economic development, while the US seems to be more preoccupied with competing with China. The White House readout spells out nothing but strength, war, combating drugs and military.