ANALYSIS - Biden-Xi Summit To Bring Brief Period Of Calming To Two Superpowers

ANALYSIS - Biden-Xi Summit to Bring Brief Period of Calming to Two Superpowers

Ekaterina Chukaeva - The much-awaited virtual summit between US President Joe Biden and China's leader Xi Jinping is unlikely to make any changes in the relations between two powers but probably will bring a short period of breathing space which is certainly needed, analysts told Sputnik

WASHINGTON (UrduPoint News / Sputnik - 18th November, 2021) Ekaterina Chukaeva - The much-awaited virtual summit between US President Joe Biden and China's leader Xi Jinping is unlikely to make any changes in the relations between two powers but probably will bring a short period of breathing space which is certainly needed, analysts told Sputnik.

Biden and Xi held a 3.5-hour virtual summit on Monday during which they discussed further development of the US-China relations, expressed their stance on the Taiwan issue and a "new Cold War", as well as exchanged views on a number of issues including Iran, North Korea, Afghanistan and the COVID-19 pandemic. The parties agreed that the meeting was "candid, constructive, substantive and productive."

Speaking on the outcome of the summit, US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said that the US and Chinese leaders had discussed the necessity for nuclear strategic stability and arms control talks. China, however, said that it has no comments on reports that the US proposed to hold a bilateral strategic stability dialogue.

Relations between the US and China have deteriorated significantly in recent years, as both are locked in a trade war and embroiled in tit-for-tat tariffs. The nations also disagree on issues ranging from human rights in Tibet, Hong Kong and Xinjiang as well as China's role in the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. Beijing has repeatedly denied all accusations, objected to aggressive actions taken by the US and its allies and urged Washington to stop provocations.


The meeting probably has relaxed tensions between the two superpowers a bit for a moment, yet it can hardly be permanent, Clyde Prestowitz who served as a counselor to US Secretary of Commerce in the Reagan Administration, told Sputnik.

"The meeting may provide a period of calming between the US and China. But that will be temporary," he said.

Meanwhile, Prestowitz does not believe that Biden has a policy to "put China in its place."

"I think the meeting was positive but will not change the fundamental differences that exist between China and the free world," Prestowitz, who authored the book dubbed "The World Turned Upside Down: America, China, and the Struggle for Global Leadership," said.

When asked whether the meeting would affect the third major world power - Russia - Prestowitz replied that the recent virtual summit will have no effect on Moscow.

Since the Biden administration continues to embrace "stiff competition" as the foundation of US policy on China, the United States will continue to compete with China, Zhang Baohui, the director of the Center for Asian Pacific Studies at Hong Kong's Lingnan University, told Sputnik.

"China certainly welcomes Biden administration's efforts to 'manage' the intensifying Sino-US competition.

However, it also understands that the Biden administration will continue to seek to limit China's rising power and influence. As a result, the meeting will unlikely affect China's foreign policies," he explained.

Anyway, the meeting should be useful for achieving Biden's "intended outcome," which is to add stability to the bilateral competition, he added.

"The Biden administration has emphasized repeatedly that it seeks to avoid military conflicts with China and this is why there should be 'guardrails' to prevent competition from becoming conflict. As such, Sino-US relations could move toward greater strategic stability even though the competition will continue," the expert said.

He recalled that there has been "remarkable consistency" between the administration of Biden and his predecessor, Donald Trump, since both view China's rise as a threat to the US in the international system.

"Thereby, both administrations have positioned China as the chief strategic competitor of the United States. The Biden government is just more concerned with the prospect of military conflicts with China," he said.

This meeting, as well as other high-level meetings between Beijing and Washington in recent months, has been held only to prevent competition from becoming conflict, Zhang noted.

"Moreover, the Biden administration also needs China's cooperation in selected issue areas such as climate change. This message is also emphasized by Biden in the meeting when he said China and the US together shoulder important responsibilities to the world," he concluded.

Both experts drew parallels between the recent summit and the one that took place between Xi and Biden's predecessor, Barack Obama, at Sunnylands, California back in 2013, and concluded that they are still very different.

"Sunnylands was in person and covered two or three days. This meeting was via zoom and covered 3 hours. I think Sunnylands was a disaster for the US. I think Biden understands where Xi is coming from and responded accordingly. No surprises, no really concrete results but maybe a somewhat better understanding on both sides of the reality of the relationship," Prestowitz said.

Zhang said the Sunnylands summit took place in "a far more positive context."

"Then, the two sides sought to build a new bilateral relationship based on cooperation. This summit happened in the context of strategic competition, which has become the official grand strategy of the United States. The Sunnylands summit sought to foster cooperation while this merely aims for managing the competition," he said.

He recalled that the Sunnylands summit did not really achieve the intended outcome either.

"Sino-US relations turned toward greater conflict starting in 2014," he said.