In a diplomatic maneuver of global significance, President Joe Biden is expected to engage in a high-profile summit with Chinese President Xi Jinping next month. This rendezvous follows a series of intensive meetings between the United States and China’s top officials, marking a pivotal moment in their bilateral relations.
The anticipated venue for this significant meeting is the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit, scheduled to be held in San Francisco in November. APEC is renowned for bringing together world leaders and influential business figures, making it an ideal platform for this diplomatic dialogue.
While the White House has not officially confirmed the impending Biden-Xi meeting, a statement released following a meeting between China’s Foreign Minister, Wang Yi, and US National Security Adviser, Jake Sullivan, indicated that both sides were actively “working together towards a meeting.” The last face-to-face interaction between Presidents Xi and Biden was at the G20 summit in Bali the previous year.
The high-level discussions between Wang Yi and Jake Sullivan were a significant component of a comprehensive three-day visit to Washington, D.C. Wang Yi also had the opportunity to meet with President Biden, as well as other key US officials, including Secretary of State Antony Blinken. The Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Beijing did not immediately confirm the visit but acknowledged that discussions regarding the often-contentious relationship between the two nations took place.
During his meetings with US officials, Wang Yi emphasized China’s commitment to enhancing and stabilizing its relationship with the United States, emphasizing the principles of “mutual respect, peaceful coexistence, and win-win cooperation.” Similar sentiments were conveyed during his meeting with Secretary Blinken, as reported by Xinhua.
Geopolitical matters featured prominently in these discussions, including the Israel-Hamas conflict, the Russian invasion of Ukraine, and the upcoming presidential election in Taiwan early next year. China, while asserting neutrality in the Ukraine crisis, has faced accusations of supporting Russia’s economy in light of Western sanctions.
Observers have turned their attention to the potential role of China in the Middle East, given its strong ties with both Israel and Arab states. The United States is a provider of arms to Israel and Ukraine and has historically sought to broker peace agreements between Palestine and Israel.
These circumstances could present an opportunity for the two nations to collaborate in de-escalating tensions, particularly in the Gaza Strip, where the threat of an Israeli ground invasion looms. President Biden highlighted the need for the United States and China to collaborate on addressing global challenges during his meeting with Wang Yi.
The United States has expressed its intent to improve bilateral relations, emphasizing the importance of establishing “guardrails” to prevent disagreements from escalating into military conflicts. The relationship between the two nations had experienced strained ties during the tenure of former President Donald Trump, who initiated a trade war with China. These strains have persisted since President Biden took office, with issues ranging from Hong Kong and Taiwan to allegations of espionage and semiconductor trade sanctions.
Signs of potential improvement have emerged with meetings between President Xi and US officials, including Secretary of State Blinken and US Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer. Nevertheless, tensions remain evident in the South China Sea, with the US accusing Beijing’s air force of engaging in dangerous maneuvers, including a near collision between a US B-52 bomber and a Chinese J-11 jet.
During his discussions with Wang Yi, President Biden underscored the importance of China deescalating its actions toward the Philippines, a US treaty ally frequently harassed by China in disputed waters of the South China Sea.
While the US and China explore potential collaboration in the Middle East, disagreements persist over Taiwan. China views Taiwan as part of its territory, while Taiwan operates as a self-governing democracy.
Taiwan is set to hold elections in early January, an event typically met with strong opposition from Beijing. The Chinese government has employed various tactics to influence the election results, including online misinformation campaigns and military exercises in the Taiwan Strait, a clear signal that it may consider using force to reclaim the island.
China’s military exercises have intensified over the past year, most notably following visits by prominent US officials to Taiwan. A military conflict between China and Taiwan could draw in the United States, which has pledged to support Taiwan’s defense, albeit without committing to the deployment of ground troops. This complex dynamic remains a focal point of concern in the evolving US-China relationship.