After President Biden and Xi Jinping had presented competing visions for how the United States and China would compete for technological, political and military preeminence, the first meeting of top leaders as they meet will be a test to see if they can reverse the downward spiral that has lowered relations to the lowest level since Nixon opened China half a century earlier.
Their scheduled meeting Monday in Indonesia will take place months after China brandished its military potential to choke off Taiwan, and the United States imposed a series of export controls devised to hobble China’s ability to produce the most advanced computer chips — necessary for its newest military equipment and crucial to competing in sectors like artificial intelligence and quantum computing.
Compounding the tension is Beijing’s partnership with Moscow, which has remained steadfast even after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. But this relationship, which was denounced by Biden’s administration, is so opaque that U.S. official disagree with its true nature.
Whether it’s a partnership of convenience or a robust alliance, Beijing and Moscow share a growing interest in frustrating the American agenda, many in Washington believe. In turn, many in China As a preview of Washington’s attempts to control China and to stop Taiwan becoming an independent country, the U.S. has combined NATO support for Ukraine with export controls to show how they could do so.
“This is in a sense the first superpower summit of the Cold War Version 2.0,” Evan S. Medeiros, a Georgetown University professor who was President Obama’s top adviser on Asia-Pacific affairs. “Will both leaders discuss, even implicitly, the terms of coexistence amid competition? Or, by default, will they let loose the dogs of unconstrained rivalry?”
American officials have recently stated to reporters that they do not expect any joint statement on points for agreement to emerge from the summit with Mr. Xi. Washington will continue to dissect the statements of Mr. Xi, particularly those made about Russia, Ukraine, Taiwan.
This month, Olaf Scholz (German chancellor) was visited by Mr. Xi. that China opposes “the threat or use of nuclear weapons,” an oblique but unusually public reproach to the Russian president Vladimir V. Putin’s saber rattling with tactical nuclear weapons.
It will be telling if Mr. Xi can’t say something similar to an American president, according to a senior administration official. China regards Russia as a crucial counterweight to Western power. Mr. Xi might hesitate to criticize Mr. Putin before Mr. Biden.
“If Putin used nuclear weapons, he would become the public enemy of humankind, opposed by all countries, including China,” Hu Wei, a Shanghai foreign policy scholar, stated that the event was a success. He added that he was not surprised by the comments. “If Putin falls, the United States and the West will then focus on strategic containment of China.”
The Xi-Putin relation is a hot topic for American officials. Colin Kahl is the No. The Pentagon’s No.3 official said Tuesday to reporters that Chinese leaders had “been much more willing to signal that this thing is edging toward an alliance as opposed to just a superficial partnership.” Mr. Biden seems doubtful. “I don’t think there’s a lot of respect that China has for Russia or for Putin,” He said it again the next day.
In the last 18 months, Mr. Xi has spoken to Mr. Biden five times by phone. This will be a different story: Mr. Biden will inaugurate the presidency for the first-time since he assumed it. “sit in the same room with Xi Jinping, be direct and straightforward with him as he always is, and expect the same in return from Xi,” Jake Sullivan, National Security Adviser said at a White House briefing Thursday.
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“There just is no substitute for this kind of leader-to-leader communication in navigating and managing such a consequential relationship,” Mr. Sullivan spoke.
Over the past 30 years, American presidents have made frequent trips to Beijing and Chinese presidents visited Washington. Testy exchanges over disputes were often balanced by promises to cooperate on areas of mutual interest, whether climate change or containing North Korea’s nuclear program. It is hard to imagine any meeting happening in either capital at the moment, especially since China is still under Covid restrictions.
Summits held on neutral ground, such as this one in Bali before the Group of 20 meeting of leader, have an increasing Cold War feeling: they are more concerned with managing conflict potential than finding common ground. Because of the rancorous distrust, even short-term stabilization or cooperation on common challenges like stopping pandemics could prove fragile.
The Cold War is a term that refers to a world divided by the Soviet and Western nuclear-armed camps. With its huge trade flows and technological commercial commerce between China, Western and Western powers, the differences are evident.
Many staples of American life, including the Apple iPhone, are made almost entirely in China. Beijing is not trying to create a formal alliance of allies like the Soviets, but rather it has tried to influence countries through major projects that create dependence, such as wiring them with Chinese-made communication networks.
Even so, the declarations surrounding Mr. Xi’s appointment to a third term and Mr. Biden’s new national security, defense and nuclear strategies have described an era of growing global uncertainty heightened by competition — economic, military, technological, political — between their countries.
The anxieties have been magnified by China’s plans to expand and modernize its still relatively limited nuclear arsenal to one that could reach at least 1,000 warheads by 2030, according to the Pentagon. China regards security initiatives led by the USA as a threat, and has offered to help build nuclear-powered submarines for Australia.
“It may not be the Cold War, with a capital C and capital W, as in a replay of the U.S.-Soviet experience,” Professor Medeiros said. He said, however, “because of China’s substantial capabilities and its global reach, this cold war will be more challenging in many ways than the previous one.”
The Biden administration issued new restrictions last month on selling semiconductor technology in China. These restrictions focused on the multi-million dollars machines required to make chips with the smallest and fastest circuitry. It was a clear effort to slow China’s progress in one of the few technological areas where it is still playing catch up.
A 48-page report. National Security Strategy document, Mr. Biden wrote China “is the only country with both the intent to reshape the international order and, increasingly, the economic, diplomatic, military and technological power to advance that objective.” The U.S. National Defense Strategy paper. weeks laterChina declared its independence in “remains our most consequential strategic competitor for the coming decades.”
The stakes for the relationship rose after Mr. Xi (69) secured a third five year term as Communist Party leader in Oct. and established a resolutely loyal leadership line likely to keep him at power even longer. At the party congress that crowned Mr. Xi, he warned of an increasingly perilous world, where unnamed foes — implicitly, the United States and allies — were trying to “blackmail, contain, blockade, and exert maximum pressure on China.”
Since then, Mr. Xi’s officials have repeatedly issued similar warnings. Camouflage is worn to visit a People’s Liberation Army command center, Mr. Xi told China’s military to steel for the intensifying challenges. “Hostile forces” were bent on blocking China’s rise, Ding Xuexiang, a top aide to Mr. Xi, wrote in People’s Daily, the party’s main newspaper.
“The United States regards our country as its main strategic rival and most severe long-term challenge, and is doing its utmost to contain us and beat us down,” An article in Guangming DailyAnother well-known party-run newspaper is.
Mr. Xi’s speech to the congress last month suggested that his assessment of international trends has grown bleaker. This may be due to fears about the impact of the war on Ukraine. vanished hopes Biden would be more friendly to China than Trump.
The Biden administration’s support for Taiwan has become a sore point.
China started menacing military drills in Taiwan at the beginning of August after Nancy Pelosi, House Speaker visited the island to show support. Mr. Biden has suggested that the United States would support Taiwan militarily if China attempted to take it by force, firmer wording than Washington’s formal position. Each time he has talked about direct involvement in Taiwan’s defense, his aides have rushed to assure that policy has not changed, while not disputing Mr. Biden has made it less ambiguous.
“The difference between Biden and Trump is that Trump wanted to fight China single-handed,” The foreign policy scholar, Mr. Hu, said the following: He said that Mr. Biden was the opposite. “has attached particular importance to alliances in strategic competition with China.”
The national security advisor, Mr. Sullivan, stated that the Biden administration would inform Taiwan about the results of the Xi-Xi meeting.
Despite their differences Mr. Biden & Mr. Xi would like to prevent pent-up tensions from exploding into a crise that could cause economic havoc.
“I’ve told him: I’m looking for competition, not — not conflict,” Mr. Biden told reporters On Wednesday, he spoke at the White House about his relationship to Mr. Xi. Their ties date back to more than a decade ago, when they were both vice presidents.
Mr. Biden stated that he may have a discussion with Mr. Xi “what he believes to be in the critical national interests of China, what I know to be the critical interests of the United States, and to determine whether or not they conflict with one another. And if they do, how to resolve it and how to work it out.”
Before the meeting, Mr. Xi also displayed a friendlier disposition.
He told He wants to establish the National Committee on U.S. China Relations “find the right way to get along.” Zhao Lijian, spokesperson for China’s foreign ministry, reiterated the point at a regular briefing on FridayBeijing said it would defend itself, “sovereignty, security and development interests,” Add that “the U.S. and China should move toward each other, managing and controlling disagreements in a proper way and promoting mutually beneficial cooperation.”
Mr. Xi wants to put China’s growth back on track after heavy blows from Covid restrictions and problems in the housing market. He wants to stop tighter regulations on high-end technology purchases, as this could scare investors and slow down his plans for economic upgrading.
Mr. Xi “preparing for a spectrum of tensions and conflict, but China is not going to fix all the vulnerabilities in its system — in the financial sector, exposure to the U.S. dollar system, exposure to tech dependencies — in just a few years,” Andrew Small, the author of “No Limits: The Inside Story of China’s War With the West.”
He said, “They want to prevent this from sliding too far and too fast, and this may be a moment to explore whether they can stabilize things.”
Claire Fu Contributed reporting