Xi & Biden virtual meeting: An expert opinion | By Dr Mehmood-ul-Hassan Khan

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Xi & Biden virtual meeting: An expert opinion

AT last political “maturity” and “sanity” prevailed and US supernatural phobia ended and subdued in the most recently held virtual meeting between Chinese President Xi Jinping and US President Joe Biden. Both leaders remained positive and talked beyond cosmetic orientations.

During the three-hour long meeting, the two sides thoroughly discussed strategic and fundamental issues between China and the US, as well as issues of mutual concern. Even the press releases of both sides genuinely catered to the feelings of the other side.

Surprisingly, the press release of the US side did not use tough words as it had used before the meeting. Hopefully, the meeting will play an active role in leading international opinion for their positive expectations toward China-US relations.

It is in the interest of both sides to move forward and must strengthen and manage divergences and ease the tense atmosphere.

Unfortunately, since the previous US Administration, Washington’s China policy has been keeping steering away from the rational track, with the Cold War-like confrontational mentality prevailing which created diplomatic tension between the two sides.

During this diplomatic tension, the US planned various notorious tactics against China consisting of advocating high-tech decoupling, economic sanctions and strengthening ties with regional allies to encircle, contain and ultimately confront China.

Resultantly, these schemes seriously jeopardized the previous atmosphere between China and the US. They multiplied people’s worries about strategic confrontation and conflicts between China and the US.

Now it is hoped that the virtual summit between the two leaders will lead China-US relations toward strategic rectification and correction, and pull relations back to the track of conforming to the fundamental interests of both countries.

Even it will have a multiplier effect on the world’s long-term peace and stability. Frankly speaking, the US has been the root cause of the deterioration of China-US relations in recent years.

It has been combination of US self-glorification, self-gratification, aggressive changes and last but not the least coercive diplomacy towards China.

By the way, the US has not gained actual benefits from its moves to jeopardize relations with China, especially in economic terms.

It’s China containment policy has not reaped any effect, but is in fact facing more and greater risks which has now forced the policy makers of US to stabilize China-US relations.

So during the marathon virtual meeting, the US repeatedly emphasized the need to prevent China-US competition from turning into conflict and it claims that Washington does not seek to change the Chinese system.

Seemingly, this meeting reaffirmed the common desire of China and the US to shed their differences and manage their relationship.

It also showcased a positive attitude toward cooperation from the two sides. In this regard, on the most sensitive Taiwan question, the two countries reiterated their respective positions.

The US stated its standard American “one-China policy,” but Biden pronounced that the US does not support “Taiwan independence.”

It is hoped that the US pledge on Taiwan will play a positive role to suppress the conspiracy between the US and Taiwan to continuously undermine the political foundation for cross-Straits peace and stability and lead to escalating military tension.

It was a strategic declaration that China and the US will spare no efforts to co-exist peacefully, and they will not go back to a cold war era.

It is most important for both countries to implement the consensus spirit of this summit and respond with constructive moves in various spheres.

Unfortunately, in the past, the US used to release confrontational messages soon after important phone calls or meetings between Chinese and US heads of state are held.

There has been other US nasty forces quickly intervened up to block the implementation of the consensus between the both leaders in specific areas.

The US Establishment should deal its domestic socio-economic, geopolitical and geostrategic compulsions with an iron hand that undercut prior summit’s outcomes.

In this regard, the US Administration needs to remember clearly their original intention of proposing this China-US virtual summit and make consistent moves to ease bilateral tension and also avoid petty risky calculations and maneuverings.

Expectations of the world are now sky high about this virtual meeting which should not be a mere watershed moment.

The future of US-China bilateral ties depends on more stability and predictability, and less turbulence with broader cooperation, handling of differences more properly and strategic trust and respect. Thus two heads of state rejected a new cold war. Now let us talk about global media reactions about this virtual summit.

Most of the US mass media outlets declared it a signal for modest hope, a cooling down of hostilities and highlight of neither non resolution nor major breakthroughs. Some other US media outlets claimed that there was no major breakthrough from the summit, echoing rising criticism against Biden in the US. So, it has mixed reactions.

However, a major tone was that the two leaders communicated directly with each other in a respectful and cordial manner. This scribe is of the view that the US constant hard line policy against China is not effective any more.

It is indeed a moral victory of Chinese philosophy of equality and fairness which is derived from a new form of Chinese diplomacy shaped from a position of strength.

Surprisingly, some American hawks and political elites still do not want to talk with China on an equal footing, but they have to do so as they have no choice but to work with China to tackle domestic and international challenges. Even former anti-China figure Peter Navarro called it Biden surrender.

Most of the conservative US media criticized Biden’s softer than expected posture and pinpointed issues about so-called human rights, the origin of COVID-19 and the Winter Olympic Games blaming the US President for not raising those topics at the summit.

In an apparent sour grapes attitude, some questioned the way Xi and Biden greeted each other, casting doubt over such cordial interactions between the two leaders.

To conclude, visionary, responsive and strong leadership of Xi Jiping, China’s overall socio-economic development, constant persuasions of peaceful conflict resolution and effective response to the COVID-19 epidemic, climate change and other aspects provided China the comparative advantage during this summit.

During the summit, China proposed a series of important proposals for the China-US relationship in a constructive way, standing on the side of the international community with a shared future. Even body language analysis of both leaders clearly declared Xi Jiping the ultimate victor.

The highlight was Biden’s agreement with the Chinese official position on Taiwan. It was a first giant step towards normalization of US-China dormant ties. It was decent and development oriented.

It was productive, positive and participatory optics. It would lessen the staggering socio-economic differences and widening trust deficit between the two countries in the days to come.

The US hawks and neoconservatives would be the two real threats to the global peace and better ties between US and China.

—The writer is Director, Geopolitics/Economics, Regional geopolitical expert of China, CPEC & BRI.

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