Why Biden cannot meet Xi Jinping

Peter Akopov

The aggravation of the situation around Taiwan did not in any way affect Beijing’s tactics in relations with Washington – China does not want an in-person summit meeting with the United States. Despite the fact that the American administration really needs this summit, and Joe Biden always says that he knows Xi Jinping best, there will definitely not be a real summit this year: according to media reports, the Chinese allegedly promised to hold a virtual one instead.

After Biden took office, the presidents spoke on the phone twice, but the Americans could not agree on any meeting. They had hopes for the upcoming G-20 summit in Rome at the end of this month – after all, if the two leaders took part in it, then it would be possible to agree on a bilateral meeting. Biden tried to get Xi’s consent to a date in Rome during a telephone conversation a month ago. But even then he did not achieve anything, and when information about this leaked to the American press, Biden said that this was not true. Washington hoped that the Chinese would be persuaded at a meeting in Zurich between US National Security Assistant Jake Sullivan and Yang Jiechi, a member of the CPC Central Committee’s Political Bureau in charge of international affairs.

Because in a telephone conversation with the Italian prime minister, the Chinese leader said that he would not go to Rome and would participate in the G20 summit remotely. It is clear that the reason for the refusal to travel was quarantine restrictions due to the coronavirus, but for Americans, Chinese caution looks very different. Beijing makes it clear to Washington that it is useless to put pressure on it – in any form. At a meeting in Zurich, Yang Jiechi promised that by the end of the year, Xi will talk to Biden, but only in a virtual format. It is clear that such a summit (in fact, not much different from a telephone conversation) is very different from ordinary face-to-face negotiations (and these are exactly what Biden expected to hold, confident that he knows the Chinese leader very well), but then the Americans have to choose not necessary. Not even speaking about, Xi Jinping does not need a meeting for the sake of a meeting – he needs the Americans to demonstrate their readiness to soften the tension in bilateral relations, which they themselves have unleashed.

After all, it is the States that continue to say that China must pay for the coronavirus pandemic, albeit not at the presidential level, as under Trump.

After all, it is the States that are trying to assemble a global anti-Chinese coalition under the guise of an “alliance of democracies”, in every possible way infl-ating the topic of confrontation between authoritarian regimes and democracies. That is, they want to formalize the geopolitical conflict between the two countries as ideological, and the Chinese remember very well that this was already in the first twenty years after the creation of the PRC, when the Americans demonized the Chinese authorities in every possible way.

After all, it was the States that created AUKUS – that is, they actually connected the PRC to the policy of military containment, which is extremely important for the Celestial Empire, promising to equip it with nuclear submarines.

After all, it is the States that are combing the Taiw-anese topic, realizing how sensitive it is to the Chinese national consciousness.

It is Taiwan that has again been in the spotlight in recent days – after the Chinese aircraft conducted massive demonstration flights near the island. Horror-horror, China is a provocateur, the Western press shouts. Taiwan is “at the epicenter of the confrontation between authoritarianism and democracy,” and its fall will be a disaster, warns CNN. The TV channel, however, quotes the president of the island state Tsai Ing-wen – she wrote about the “epicenter” in the American Foreign Affairs article published the other day, meaning, it is true, the ideological struggle, but everyone understands what this is about. Tsai generally believes that the outcome of this battle will determine the future of the world: will it be authoritarian or democratic. Perfectly in the spirit of Biden’s agenda.

For a correct ideological struggle, an appropriate atmosphere is needed, that is, it is necessary to say not that the United States has created two chains of military bases and deterrent forces around the PRC, not that warships of the United States, Great Britain, New Zealand and Canada are currently conducting exercises near China. No, it is necessary to inflate the topic of the threat of a Chinese invasion of Taiwan – which, horror, the Americ-an army will not be able to prevent in a few years.

“Tensions between Taiwan and China are at their worst in 40 years, and China will be ready for a full-scale invasion by 2025,” Taiwan Defense Minister Qiu Guozheng said yesterday. But is China going to invade Taiwan? No, China does not want two things: the proclamation of the island’s independence (that is, a situation in which Taiwan ceases to consider itself a continuation of the Republic of China that existed before 1949) and the American game in the Taiwan direction. That is, China is confident that sooner or later Taiwan will return to its home harbor – like Hong Kong with its “One country, two systems” vector. But Beijing is well aware that the Americans will not only do everything to make this happen as late as possible, but will also try to use the Taiwanese theme to provoke China and demonize it.

Therefore, it is fundamentally important for China to minimize the ability of the Americans to play the “Taiwan card” – and for this, on the one hand, Beijing is building a powerful navy, and on the other, it constantly warns Washington about the inadmissibility of crossing red lines in this direction. If the United States continues to escalate the topic of “China’s threat to Taiwan,” and even more so to play out the issue of declaring the island’s independence, this will have a profound effect on bilateral relations, making normal Sino-American dialogue virtually impossible.

Does the States need it? No – that is why on Wednesday Joe Biden, answering a question about “provocative Chinese flights,” said that he had spoken about Taiwan with Xi Jinping (a month ago): “We agree, we will abide by the agreement on Taiwan. We stand on this, and I made it clear that I don’t think we need to do anything other than honor the agreement.”

That is, Biden reaffirmed his adherence to the “one China” concept (of course: abandoning it would lead to a rupture of diplomatic relations between the United States and the PRC), but at the same time Washington still accuses Beijing of provocations, and American generals are analyzing scenarios of the Chinese invasion and the possible reaction of the United States to him.

China responds by accusing Washington of undermining peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region – and continues to shy away from the summit. Its prospects seem more and more dim, especially if we remember that in December Biden is convening a “summit of democracies”, the main goal of which will be to form a global anti-Chinese coalition. Formally ideological, but with very specific geopolitical intentions: the retention of global domination by those who are doomed to lose it. The summit of “leaders of democracies” is scheduled for December 9-10 – in virtual mode. And after it – and depending on how it goes – Xi Jinping may hold a virtual meeting with Biden.

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