Joe Biden’s suggestion of summit with Xi Jinping falls on deaf ears

US-China relations updates

Joe Biden instructed he maintain a face-to-face summit with Chinese president Xi Jinping throughout a 90-minute name final week however didn’t safe an settlement from his counterpart, main some US officers to conclude that Beijing is constant to play hardball with Washington.

The US president proposed to Xi that the leaders maintain the summit in an effort to interrupt an deadlock in US-China relations, however a number of individuals briefed on the decision mentioned the Chinese chief didn’t take him up on the provide and as a substitute insisted Washington undertake a much less strident tone in direction of Beijing.

The White House had portrayed the decision — which befell at Biden’s request seven months after their first phone dialog — as an opportunity to check if Xi was keen to interact critically after a number of diplomatic conferences between US and Chinese officers garnered little progress.

Five individuals briefed on the decision mentioned that whereas Xi had used much less abrasive language than his prime diplomats had carried out this yr, his general message to Biden was that the US should tone down its rhetoric.

Biden has taken a harsh line on China, criticising its remedy of the Uyghurs in Xinjiang, its crackdown on the pro-democracy motion in Hong Kong and its army exercise round Taiwan. Beijing has responded by accusing the Biden administration of interfering in China’s core strategic pursuits.

A sixth individual acquainted with the scenario mentioned Biden had floated the summit as one of a number of prospects for follow-on engagement with Xi, and that the US president had not anticipated an instantaneous response.

One US official briefed on the dialog mentioned that whereas Xi didn’t interact with the concept of a summit, the White House believed this was partly as a consequence of issues about Covid-19. Xi has not left China since he went to Myanmar in early 2020 earlier than the outbreak of the pandemic.

The US had thought of the G20 gathering in Italy in October for a potential summit, however Chinese media have instructed that Xi might not attend. He will even not attend the Shanghai Co-operation Organisation assembly this week in Tajikistan, the place China, Russia, India, Pakistan and central Asian international locations will focus on Afghanistan.

Another individual acquainted with the Biden-Xi name mentioned it was conceivable that the Chinese president simply didn’t wish to commit at this explicit cut-off date. A unique individual mentioned it was potential that the 2 sides may conform to a video name — a step up from a telephone name — across the time of the G20. But three individuals mentioned the US was disillusioned with Xi’s obvious lack of curiosity in a summit.

The White House declined to remark earlier than publication of this text however Biden later advised reporters who requested if he was disillusioned that Xi didn’t wish to meet that it was “not true”, in accordance with Reuters.

The president made the feedback after Jake Sullivan, US nationwide safety adviser, had mentioned the account of the Biden-Xi name was not correct. “This is not an accurate portrayal of the call. Period,” Sullivan mentioned in a press release. “As we’ve said, the presidents discussed the importance of being able to have private discussions between the two leaders, and we’re going to respect that.”

Chinese accounts of the decision emphasised that it had been initiated by Biden, and quoted Xi as saying that US insurance policies had precipitated “serious difficulties”. They additionally famous that the US “looks forward to more discussions and co-operation” with China, in language that implied Washington was pushing tougher for engagement than Beijing.

A day after the decision, the Financial Times reported Biden was contemplating permitting Taiwan to vary the identify of its workplace within the US, from Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office to “Taiwan Representative Office. The report prompted an angry response from China, which fears that such a name change would bolster Taiwan’s claim to be a sovereign country.

Bonnie Glaser, a China expert at the German Marshall Fund, said it was difficult to interpret Xi’s reluctance to hold an in-person summit.

“It may be politically risky for Xi to engage with President Biden without certainty that he can get something from Biden. He may calculate that it is safer to only have interactions in this period at lower levels,” Glaser mentioned. “But there is also the Covid factor, and we don’t know how much weight to attach to that.”

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