Because it took place, we might consider it a triumph. The meeting between Vice President Joe Biden and President Biden-Xi Jinping of China, which took place on Wednesday south of San Francisco, may have closed a trap door under the world’s most important diplomatic relationship, which has sunk to its most contentious level in the past fifty years.
The mood music was upbeat after four hours of talks, which were punctuated by a lunch of herbed ricotta ravioli, tarragon roasted chicken, and almond meringue cake. However, expectations were purposefully set so low, and each side had significant incentives to declare the meeting productive. As a result, it was hardly an achievement that the mood music was upbeat after those talks.
Biden left the meeting with the expectation that he had lessened the hazards that were posed by US and Chinese soldiers operating in dangerously close quarters in the Asia-Pacific region. This is something that he wishes to avoid developing into yet another globally destructive political crisis during his campaign for reelection the following year.
During this moment of economic turmoil, it was imperative for Xi to demonstrate to his domestic constituents in the communist hierarchy that he is in charge of the critical links he maintains with the United States. After a tumultuous chapter, it was imperative that he convey the message that China now considers it to be in its best interest to de-escalate tensions with other major countries, particularly the United States.
However, the significant but modest improvements made at the Georgian revival-style estate will not do much to offset the underlying forces driving a more violent competition between the United States and China.
After the meeting, Vice President Biden stated that while China and the United States were engaged in a competitive relationship, “my responsibility is to make it… work,” which he described as having the tone of “trust but verify.” “I’m all about making things reasonable and solvable so that they don’t lead to conflict because that’s what I’m all about.”
Xi warned that the United States should not scheme to “suppress or contain” his country, expressing Beijing’s belief that the United States desire to compete with its rising rival is really aimed at thwarting China’s rightful destiny.
While Xi argued that the world was big enough for both the United States and China to coexist, he warned that the United States should not scheme to “suppress or contain” his country. This is a chasm that could not possibly be bridged in the course of a single summit.
President Biden takes significant political risks
Biden was well aware that his meeting with Xi would set off a political conflagration. Simply engaging in conversation with China is enough to spark allegations that the president is trying to appease a foe. As the summit came to a close, the Republican leader of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, Senator Jim Risch, issued a stern warning that Vice President Biden had “yet again undermined US national security interests.”
The senator from Idaho went on to say that China is not a typical nation but rather an aggressive state. Xi is getting what he wants from Biden, which is a succession of worthless working groups and engagement mechanisms.
Biden has come under fire from aspirants for the Republican presidential nomination for his handling of Beijing. They have the luxury of not being responsible for ensuring the stability of the most important diplomatic relationship in the world, which gives them an incentive to misrepresent the complexity of a situation that is already complicated.
Criticizing China has been a staple of US presidential campaigns for a very long time; at the very least, it can be traced back to the election that saw Democrat Bill Clinton defeat Republican President George H.W. Bush in 1992.
But the animosity has been unusually blatant this year, with Republican contenders such as former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis indicating that stronger language on its own would be enough to persuade China to bow down to US power.
Biden had significant political motivations to ensure the success of this summit, but he also wanted to demonstrate that he was willing to be firm with Xi.
In the year of his reelection, for example, he cannot afford to have a major conflict with China. The United States is already operating at a reduced capacity as a result of the ongoing conflicts in Ukraine and the Middle East. More unrest would lend credence to Republican claims that he is old and frail, and it would lend support to Republican front-runner Donald Trump’s assertions that the globe is careening out of control because Joe Biden is in charge.
It was also notable that the first thing that Biden mentioned in his news conference was about a deal he had made with Xi to stop the shipment from China of precursor chemicals for fentanyl, which are contributing to a lethal narcotics epidemic in the United States. It’s one thing for China to say it will put a stop to these kinds of activities.
It is something else entirely for it to act. However, if the arrangement is successful, Biden will be responsible for the saving of countless lives. Additionally, he is now in possession of the talking point for the campaign trial.
During his press conference, Biden made it a point to emphasize on multiple occasions that he had been “blunt” with Xi. This is the result of a fraught diplomatic relationship between the two countries. However, this is also a hedge against accusations from the Republican Party that he is giving in to China.