Prospects for US-China relations following virtual summit

(VOVWORLD) - US President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping concluded their virtual summit on Tuesday. The meeting came with tensions high between the two countries on multiple fronts, and was viewed as a necessary step toward lowered tensions and shared development.

Before becoming the US President, Joe Biden met Xi many times. Since his election, Biden had had two phone talks with President Xi but no meetings. Their virtual summit drew close public attention.

Various challenges

The virtual summit between the two Presidents took place with US-China relations at their lowest point in decades. The decline began during the Presidency of Donald Trump. Biden has continued to treat China as the US’s top rival and has tried to mobilize an alliance to counter China, most visibly during his visit to Europe in June.

Before the virtual summit, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Foreign Minister Wang Yi warned each other about the Chinese Taipei issue, a point of growing contention between them. Blinken expressed the US’s concern over China’s military, diplomatic, and economic pressure on Chinese Taipei. In response, Wang Yi warned of the danger of US actions that might seem supportive of "Chinese Taipei’s independence”.

China strongly objected to the establishment of the AUKUS alliance between Australia, the UK, and the US in September as well as Washington's increased contact with partners for its strategic pivot to Asia. The longstanding trade dispute between China and the US shows no sign of cooling down. Other issues are human rights and freedom of navigation in the Indian and Pacific Ocean.

Both Presidents are under pressure on the domestic front. Biden expects a tough stance toward China to help him in the mid-term election in 2022 and the presidential election in 2024. Xi wants to portray himself as a strong, decisive leader ahead of next year’s Chinese Communist Party Congress.

A necessary step

The virtual US-China summit is seen as an important move for bilateral relations. Despite their disputes, the two need to sit down and try to understand each other’s views and demands in order to avoid worsening the situation.

Before the summit, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said the two Presidents would discuss ways to resolve their competition responsibly and cooperate for mutual interests.

President Xi said in a congratulatory message sent to the National Committee on US-China Relations (NCUSCR) as it hosted its annual gala Tuesday evening that Beijing stands ready to work with Washington to bring "one of the world's most important bilateral relationships" back onto the right track. Xi said China is ready to work with the US to enhance exchanges and cooperation across the board, and jointly address regional and global issues and challenges while appropriately managing differences. At the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow, the US and China issued a joint statement on climate change.

It’s obvious that the US and China need to have a dialogue. The question is whether both can move past their disagreements and cooperate for mutual benefit and the good of the international community.

Related News