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With US-China relations on a tightrope, Biden and Xi’s rendezvous is extra essential than ever | World Information

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It has been a yr since President Xi and President Biden final met, and it is exhausting to overstate simply what a rollercoaster US-China relations have been on since then.

The very fact this assembly is going on in any respect is the results of months of delicate planning.

However for all of the “tough-line”, “hard-man” pictures that each males attempt to broadcast domestically, there’s a mutual recognition of 1 key reality: it could price extra, each politically and economically, to permit relations to spiral.

Why now?

It was simply 9 months in the past that US-China relations hit what felt like all-time low because the so-called Chinese spy balloon was shot down over the US, plunging their diplomacy into disaster.

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Second ‘spy balloon’ is shot down

The huge backdrop of disagreements from Taiwan, the Indo-Pacific, the Ukraine war, tech controls and financial sanctions meant the connection felt as precarious and as harmful because it had in a long time.

However the summer time has seen a blitz of diplomatic efforts to attempt to restore issues, with a number of conferences of officers at numerous ranges.

Each side know the window for progress is slim.

Come subsequent yr, Taiwan’s presidential election will probably inflame tensions, after which the inevitable anti-China sentiment that may accompany the US election cycle will little doubt make issues worse.

The time to play statesmen and to push for his or her pursuits is now!

What do they need?

Do not be underneath any phantasm, each Biden and Xi are coming to this desk with immense quantities of scepticism concerning the different’s intentions.

Any significant breakthrough is extremely unlikely.

What they each search is a level of what is being known as “tactical stabilisation” – a pause in deterioration that may enable every to pursue its pursuits in a extra predictable atmosphere.

On the US facet, there may be an understanding that solely a gathering of the highest males will unlock the Chinese language system to allow cooperation on a few of the “simpler” points like local weather change and world well being.

There’s additionally a hope that military-to-military talks would possibly be capable of restart after being shut down following former Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s controversial visit to Taiwan last year.

From China’s perspective, a pause in deterioration provides it the area to proceed to construct up its financial and navy power to higher compete going ahead.

The visuals are additionally essential to Xi Jinping domestically.

It has not been an excellent yr for him, with a chaotic finish to his hated zero COVID policy, a faltering financial system and deteriorating relations with a number of western nations. Being seen to have the ability to handle this significant relationship is essential to casting himself as a reliable statesman.

So what’s going to they talk about?

There are such a lot of disagreements more likely to be raised, however these are the highest three on the record:

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China and US meet to ease tensions

Territorial claims and navy pressure

Maybe prime of the lengthy record of points between them is China’s more and more assertive behaviour in contested areas that it claims as its personal.

Most distinguished is Taiwan, the self-governing island that China sees as a breakaway province. Xi has expressed a number of occasions his want to “reunify” Taiwan, Biden has promised to defend it.

The opposite enviornment the place tensions are rising is the South China Sea.

China claims the overwhelming majority as its worldwide waters, regardless of rival claims from the Philippines and others. In 2016, a global arbitral tribunal dominated overwhelmingly in favour of the Philippines.

Nevertheless, in current months there have been frequent confrontations between Chinese and Filipino vessels, and right here too the US has reiterated its dedication to assist the Philippines.

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Boats from China and Philippines collide

The US claims that in each areas China’s behaviour is turning into more and more aggressive and, in some {cases} harmful. It has launched movies of Chinese language jets flying hair-raisingly near US ones, in a single current case, simply 10ft away.

The Individuals say the chance of accidents and escalation is grave.

China, for its half, says that it’s US conduct that’s the harmful power. It sees American presence in these areas as blatant provocation in its yard.

These are deeply intractable points, the perfect that is perhaps hoped for is a few type of settlement to an offramp for if issues ever escalate.

International conflicts

The 2 leaders may even talk about the 2 main ongoing world conflicts in Ukraine and the Middle East.

In each, they’ve taken a drastically completely different tact.

In relation to Ukraine, China has tried to painting itself as a impartial peacemaker, one of many solely nations with the flexibility to speak to each side.

The truth, although, is that Xi has made no secret of his rising closeness to Putin and has quietly been offering Russia with finance, know-how and diplomatic cowl.

Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping pose at the Belt and Road Forum, Beijing, China. Pic: AP
Xi has made no secret of his rising closeness to Putin. Pic: AP

In the meantime, within the Center East, it has known as for a ceasefire and peace, nevertheless it has stopped in need of immediately condemning Hamas for the 7 October atrocities and state media has taken a decidedly pro-Palestinian tone.

In each {cases}, China’s method is in stark opposition to America’s, and it has criticised its rival for its full-throated assist for each Israel and Ukraine and the availability of navy help.

At root, each have an curiosity within the different not gaining benefit or affect off the again of the outcomes of those conflicts.

Tech and financial sanctions

There’s nonetheless a raft of restrictions on know-how and financial sanctions that exist between them.

Simply within the final month, new ones have been introduced on each side, with China proscribing US entry to graphite (a vital part in making batteries) and the US additional proscribing Chinese language entry to semiconductors.

The intention on each side is to hinder the opposite’s capability to develop in key areas reminiscent of AI. However this commerce battle hurts them each as they continue to be main buying and selling companions and the 2 economies are extremely reliant on one another.

Xi specifically has a have to mitigate these points.

Amidst a flagging financial system, he’s attempting to woo international funding again to China and is predicted to fulfill with US enterprise leaders whereas in San Francisco.

A clean summit would possibly assist him stave off, at the least briefly, extra US restrictions and it could assist shore up the boldness of some international companies spooked by the imposition of state-centric restrictions and raids on a handful of China-based US companies.

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