Nov 19, 2021
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About the Biden-Si virtual meeting

The Chinese people must remember that you can only rely on yourself

On November 15, a videoconference meeting was held between Xi Jinping and Joe Biden. The summit was initiated by the American side. As a result of the meeting, the parties remained at their previous positions on all the issues raised.

The main place in the discussion, judging by the official reports and comments, was occupied by the problem of Taiwan. In addition, Biden and Xi Jinping discussed human rights, the implementation of the first stage trade deal, issues of bilateral economic competition, the state of security in the Indo-Pacific region, the climate crisis, the fight against coronavirus, measures to solve the problem of energy supplies and exchanged views on the DPRK, Afghanistan and Iran.

Both leaders agreed that the state of relations between the United States and China has a decisive influence on the world economy and international security. There is general consensus on the importance of “managing competition” and keeping it out of control. This is where the commonality of positions ended. Official records and statements of the meeting show a characteristic difference in the starting positions of the parties.

If the President of the People’s Republic of China emphasized equality and mutually beneficial relations as fundamental principles, which exclude a “zero-sum game”, then the President of the United States focused on “managing competition and strategic risks” in US-Chinese relations.

Xi Jinping put forward three principles for achieving mutual understanding between the PRC and the United States. First, mutual respect for social systems and ways of developing each other, basic interests and the right to development. Secondly, peaceful coexistence. Third, mutually beneficial cooperation. Since the interests of the PRC and the United States are “deeply intertwined”, their unification will benefit both countries, and the confrontation will “harm both.”

The PRC President acknowledged that there are differences between the PRC and the United States, but “The main thing is to manage them constructively and avoid their expansion and intensification”… He stressed that China does not intend to impose its model on other countries, but, on the contrary, has always encouraged others. “To find a development path suitable for their own national conditions”

The American approach can be found in the White House report. It says that the meeting “Was about how the two leaders discussed how to manage competition responsibly” between the US and the PRC and “creating a framework for this competition.”

Unlike Xi Jinping, the US President prioritized the importance of “strategic risk” management. He noted the need “so that competition does not escalate into conflict” and “maintain open communication lines.”

Biden said that the American side “does not seek to change the Chinese system,” does not seek to oppose China by strengthening allied relations, and does not intend to conflict with China, as the Chinese side claims.

However, the value of such statements is small. First, the involvement of American allies in the confrontation with the PRC is obvious (the creation of AUKUS, pressure on Japan, etc.). Second, by abandoning attempts to change the Chinese political system (due to the failure of these attempts), the United States is only changing the methods of containing the PRC. Washington’s main concern is that in the process of containing China not to run into a response by force.

As already mentioned, the parties devoted most of their time to the Taiwan problem. Here the positions of the United States and China diverge. During the talks, Biden reaffirmed the US commitment to the “one China” policy, while opposing any change in the status quo and any action that “undermines peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait.” The President of the People’s Republic of China informed Biden that the situation in the Taiwan Strait began to aggravate after the Taiwanese authorities repeatedly tried to “rely on the United States for independence,” and “some politicians” in the United States responded to these calls. Xi Jinping warned that if “the separatist forces of Taiwan cross the” red line “, the PRC” will have to take drastic measures. “

At the meeting, the US President expressed concern about human rights abuses in Xinjiang, Tibet and Hong Kong, but Xi Jinping opposed the topic being used to interfere in the internal affairs of others. He emphasized that the understanding of human rights and democracy in general is “not an individual product”, implying that there are many models of democracy in the world and the Western model is only one of them.

Against the background of these questions, the topic of trade tariffs was not particularly noticeable during the conversation and did not provoke much discussion. The Chinese side pointed out the inadmissibility of politicizing Sino-American trade and economic relations and using the topic of national security as a pretext for “suppressing Chinese companies.”

Referring to the issue of combating climate change, the President of the People’s Republic of China formulated the principle “Common but differentiated responsibilities”, pointing out that developed countries must fulfill in good faith the obligations imposed on them by their history.

In conclusion, it should be noted that “managing competition” in the American way implies a one-sided advantage for the United States in relations with China, with which Beijing will never agree.

Soberly assessing the uncertain prospects of bilateral relations, Global Times writes in an editorial that “the US strategy to contain China has not changed and probably will not.” And the Chinese people must remember, the newspaper notes, that they can only rely on themselves.

Photo: REUTERS / Tingshu Wang

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