The Biden-Xi summit: Shaping the future
In a pivotal move in international diplomacy, Chinese President Xi Jinping is set to meet with his United States counterpart, President Joe Biden, in San Francisco this week. This face-to-face meeting on the sidelines of the 30th Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Economic Leaders’ Meeting signals mutual commitment to fostering cooperation in the Asia-Pacific region.
The summit marks a critical juncture where the two world leaders are expected to delve into matters of immense strategic significance shaping China-US relations, world peace, and global development. With the world’s economic landscape grappling with instability and uncertainties, the Xi-Biden meet is eagerly anticipated as it unfolds how the two global powers navigate a landscape of intense competition across various sectors.
In recent years, the relations between the two countries took a frosty turn following Biden’s order to intercept a presumed Chinese espionage balloon that traversed the continental US. Chinese resentment meanwhile threatened to boil over with the US stopover of Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen earlier this year. This was followed by the US adding over 1,300 Chinese entities and individuals to various sanctions lists, and imposing punitive tariffs on a large array of Chinese products.
Despite these challenges, recent months have witnessed renewed contact and increased interactions between the US and China at different levels and in various domains. Just recently, Chinese Vice Premier He Lifeng met with US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen in San Francisco in a dialogue that exudes a relatively moderate atmosphere, underscoring the recent upswing in bilateral relations. Furthermore, there is a thawing in talks over arms control and climate change.
For this complex yet critical relationship, the face-to-face meeting between two leaders is of paramount importance. It is a juncture that could lead to a stable future built on mutual benefit and cooperation, instead of otherwise bringing us closer to a new Cold War. As the summit nears, the expectation is that the US will keep the channels of communication open, reinforcing existing mechanisms, and exploring new approaches in the realms of climate change and fentanyl control. It is imperative to recognize that while both parties strive for amicable relations, there remain issues of contention, such as the Taiwan question and the South China Sea dispute.
Today’s global challenges necessitate collaboration between China and the US, as tackling them is virtually impossible without the two major powers working together. The Xi-Biden meeting thus sends an encouraging message to the world. It highlights the ability of two major nations to manage their differences and maintain stability, even in the midst of fierce competition. This summit presents a unique opportunity for both countries to embrace their responsibilities and collaboratively tackle the urgent challenges that affect the world.
Such cooperation is paramount, particularly in the context of the Asia-Pacific region and a global landscape grappling with economic stagnation and an array of pressing issues. The international political stage is marked by intermittent hotbeds of tension, seen in the Russia-Ukraine conflict and the Israel-Palestine war of attrition, both of which carry the risk of escalating into worldwide conflagrations. The problem is that on all these global hotspots, both sides have extremely divergent views. Biden and Xi will likely delve into discussions on the Israel-Hamas situation, Russia’s actions in Ukraine, and the impending presidential election in Taiwan. Such dialogues serve as a crucial buffer to prevent misunderstandings from escalating into conflicts, and as pivotal in strategizing responses to rapidly evolving crises.
As President Xi embarks on his visit to the US, there is a chance to steer China-US relations toward stability. This meeting is not only a watershed moment for China-US relations but also a testament to the power of diplomacy in a world in constant flux. The potential for an amicable relationship between these two global giants presents an opportunity to address the pressing issues of our time and foster greater stability in our ever-changing world.
Striking a balance between collaboration and competition should be the paramount objective of this summit. Both leaders have the option to send a positive message to the world. This message conveys that, despite fierce competition, the two major powers can steer their relationship toward stability and manage their differences judiciously. Indeed, it is during times of turbulence and adversity that true leadership emerges. This summit in San Francisco may very well usher in a new era of cooperation and partnership between China and the US. The Jakarta Post/Asia News Network
Imran Khalid is a columnist on international relations based in Karachi, Pakistan.
The Philippine Daily Inquirer is a member of the Asia News Network, an alliance of 22 media titles in the region.