Xi-Biden Summit: White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said in many words that the United States wants intense competition with China when she briefed reporters on the upcoming summit between U.S. President Joe Biden and Chinese leader Xi Jinping.
Given the flow of bilateral relations, the move appears to be a deceptive genuflection on the part of Washington to brush aside claims of a “Thucydides trap” by Beijing amid mounting tensions between the largest economy and the most populous country.
Xi, who state media reported recently chaired a meeting to gather views of non-Communist parties on his accomplishments and experience, may be in the spotlight even inside his own. country as tensions over Taiwan rock the strait, the body of water strategically positioned to divide the mainland with the island – which could turn into a geopolitical powder keg.
Biden and Xi will meet virtually and the video conference does not detract from the significance of the event which the world, including the European Union and China’s South Asian neighbors, will view with some trepidation.
Dr Steven Wright, associate professor and associate dean at the College of Humanities and Social Sciences at Hamad Bin Khalifa University in Doha, said that when the leaders of the two superpowers meet, it is always of strategic importance.
“Dialogue helps ease tensions through mutual understanding, whether or not an agreement has been reached. Ties are problematic, but engagement often leads to concessions and easing tensions, ”he said.
The Greek historian Thucydides introduced the concept of “Thucydides’ Trap” in which one great power becomes a threat to another, most likely resulting in war. The rise of the Greek state of Athens made Sparta uncomfortable, which led to war, says Dr Wright.
This would be Biden’s first meeting with Xi, whose stance on Taiwan is shared by the nation of around 1.5 billion.
The Chinese leader has made reunification of Taiwan the leitmotif of his presidency, asking the Progressive Democratic Party in island authorities to bend or break.
In a three-hour marathon speech punctuated by applause, Xi said at the opening of the 19th CPC National Congress at the Great Hall of the People in 2017, “We must uphold the One China Principle and the 1992 Consensus. , and promote the peaceful development of cross-Strait relations.
“Blood is thicker than water. People on both sides of the Taiwan Strait are siblings; we share the family tie,” Xi added.
The summit comes after an October meeting between Jake Sullivan, Biden’s national security adviser, and Yang Jiechi, a member of the CPC Central Committee’s political bureau and diplomatic heavyweight.
Can the two nations, often dubbed the terrible children by the Green Brigade, unite around the environment as they come out of a much-vaunted COP26 in Glasgow where Xi was absent.
The two countries issued a surprise joint statement at COP-26 showing their commitment to tackle climate change. “This is a positive result and it shows that there is a will to cooperate on common interests. The challenge is to achieve mutual understanding in other areas, ”says Dr Wright.
The agreement, he said, that they must reach is one on the principle that although differences will continue to exist, a real confrontation must be avoided by both sides.
Foreign policy watchers say that while Trump would have approached the Taiwan issue as a grassroots populist, Biden is likely to approach it more strategically.
The challenge for Biden is to try to reconcile a principled stance against the strategic need to reduce tensions and come to a principled understanding of how to avoid an actual conflict situation.
Taiwan and the South China Sea are strategic geopolitical issues that would dominate discussions. This does not mean that commerce, cyber threats and human rights will be neglected.
As people in the United States and China wake up to yellow and red foliage on a cold November morning, the world will be watching if Biden and Xi are able to ignore more than the Monday morning blues.