November 16, 2021 | Xi-Biden Meeting
How will the Xi-Biden meeting change the nature of US-China relations?
The November 15 virtual meeting between U.S. President Biden and Chinese Paramount Leader Xi Jinping marked a significant development in US-China relations.
Such a meeting would have been impossible to imagine just a year ago and solidifies the Biden administration’s China policy in the year leading up to US mid-term elections and the Communist Party of China’s (CPC) 20th National People’s Congress (NPC) in 2022.
It’s tempting to wait for a clear resolution between leaders marking a formal declaration of “guard railed” relations. While potentially unsatisfying to many observers both inside and outside China, we may very well be witnessing the most stable iteration of the US-China relationship.
Domestic political uncertainty will continue to play a role in driving the evolution of US-China relations over the coming year and beyond.
Given the profound impact of domestic reforms such as Common Prosperity on China’s socioeconomic structure over the preceding months, China is a different country than it was a year ago. It will be a different country one year from now.
The United States and China will likely continue to cope with various disagreements and misunderstandings rooted in cultural, economic, and geopolitical factors. From Chinese leaders’ perspective, the United States is still grappling with a reverberation of populism on both the ideological right and left.
Despite a massive surge of pandemic-sparked socioeconomic instability in 2020, US state and democratic institutions have proven far more durable than Chinese leaders imagined they would be.
Values-based misjudgments and intellectual rigidity will continue to constitute the underlying fabric of the US-China relationship. Despite a strict zero-covid policy, Chinese leaders and citizens are still riding a wave of confidence and popular support following the PRC’s effective pandemic response.
It’s too early to determine whether the November 15, 2021 meeting between Presidents Xi and Biden markets a turning point in US-China relations. However, the meeting reflects the existence of a stable equilibrium between the world’s two largest economies.
“On the morning of 16 November, President Xi Jinping had a virtual meeting with US President Joe Biden. The two sides had thorough and in-depth communication and exchanges on issues of strategic, overarching and fundamental importance shaping the development of China-US relations and on important issues of mutual interest.”
Xi Jinping urges Joe Biden to put U.S. policy on China back on track (South China Morning Post)
“Chinese President Xi Jinping called for Beijing and Washington to “find the right way to get along” in his first virtual summit with Joe Biden, urging his counterpart to return US policy on China to a rational track and saying their actions would be judged by history.
Xi said it was inevitable that the two nations would have differences, but both should take steps to manage and avoid intensifying them. To help achieve that, China was willing to engage in talks and cooperation with the United States on a wide range of matters covering economic development, energy, militaries, education, technology, cyberspace and environmental protection, he said.”
Biden urges Xi not to allow competition to ‘veer into conflict’ (Financial Times)
‘Joe Biden and Xi Jinping held extensive talks about Taiwan in a virtual meeting on Monday but failed to establish any “guardrails” to ensure that tensions over the island do not escalate into a dangerous conflict. The US president opened the three-hour meeting by telling his Chinese counterpart that they had to ensure competition between the powers did “not veer into conflict”. But they did not reach agreement or find any way to ease tensions over Taiwan, which China claims as part of its territory. “On Taiwan, there was sort of nothing new established in the form of guardrails or any other understandings,” a senior US official said. “The president was very clear in reaffirming very longstanding US policy and raising very clear concerns, but the idea of establishing specific guardrails with respect to Taiwan was not part of the conversation.”’
“U.S. Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo said Monday that her country looks to form an economic framework that goes beyond the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership.”