Biden, at the press conference he gave after the meeting, supposedly to celebrate its results, saw fit to say that he always continues to consider his Chinese counterpart a “dictator”.
Efforts to coexist, but with the unbridgeable differences between the US and China evident, see analysts commenting on Wednesday’s summit between US President Joe Biden and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping.
Joe Biden and Xi Jinping on Wednesday resumed the dialogue they had put on hold for a year, but at the same time highlighted their unbridgeable differences, especially on the Taiwan issue.
It was sufficiently revealing that the American president, in the press conference he gave after the meeting, supposedly to highlight its results, saw fit to say that he always continues to consider the Chinese counterpart of “dictator”.
“He is a dictator in the sense that he is ruling a country, a communist country, where the form of government is completely different from ours,” he said, repeating the characterization that had already drawn outrage from Beijing.
Happening Now: President Biden holds a press conference following the US-PRC Summit. https://t.co/XUxgS6sAYa
— The White House (@WhiteHouse) November 16, 2023
The meeting, however, brought about the resumption of high-level contacts between the militaries of the two superpowers, which had been suspended for more than a year due to the visit of the then Speaker of the House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, to Taipei.
The four-hour meeting, in a luxurious place some forty kilometers from San Francisco, was “constructive and productive”, according to Mr. Biden.
The 80-year-old Democrat also said that the two men are now able to pick up the phone and talk “directly and immediately” with each other in the event of a crisis.
As the meeting, carefully choreographed to give the impression of restoring calm in the relationship – the two leaders, for example, appeared briefly in front of photographers taking a walk in a manicured garden – did not actually resolve any of the thorny issues.
President Xi, however, agreed to receive, according to the Americans, “measures to significantly reduce” the production and trafficking of fentanyl.
The highly potent synthetic opioid is produced with chemicals sourced primarily from China and is responsible for tens of thousands of overdose deaths in the US each year.
The announcement is welcome news for President Biden, who is campaigning for re-election and has been widely accused by his Republican opponents of not doing enough to combat drug trafficking.
US President Joe Biden and Chinese leader Xi Jinping agreed China would stem the export of items related to the production of the opioid fentanyl, a leading cause of drug overdoses in the United States https://t.co/rWJF12DM4H pic.twitter.com/JWVYFXwzvs
— Reuters (@Reuters) November 16, 2023
Also, Washington and Beijing decided to discuss about artificial intelligence, forming a joint team of experts.
Xi Jinping, faced with a worsening economic and social situation in his country, did not in any way want to give the image that he is in a position of weakness, above all when it comes to Taiwan.
The status of the island, which Beijing considers its province and where presidential elections will soon be held, remains a central issue causing friction.
Yesterday, Mr. Biden demanded from his Chinese counterpart to “respect the electoral process” in Taiwan, while at the same time confirming Washington’s deliberately ambiguous position: it does not support its independence, but at the same time says how he will defend it if an attempt is made to take it by force.
The Chinese president, for his part, called on his American counterpart to “stop arming” Taiwan, stressing that the reunion is “inevitable”, according to Chinese diplomacy.
“The planet is big enough”
Washington also expects China – a partner of Iran and Russia – to maintain balance in major international crises, such as the Israel/Hamas war in Ukraine.
The two men first met with their respective delegations, then dined in a much more intimate setting while walking together, apparently for the cameras.
The meeting seems to have been measured to the last thousand, after weeks of contacts, in the Californian hills that were often turned in the 1980s into the setting of the series Dynasty.
The American president said once again at the beginning of the session that his purpose to have “responsible” management of rivalry of the two countries, so that it doesn’t “get dragged out”, doesn’t “turn into a conflict”.
“After today, would you still refer to Xi as a dictator?” asks a reporter.
“Look, he is. He’s a dictator in the sense that he’s a guy who runs a country that is a communist country that’s based on a form of govt totally different than ours” – #US President Biden#China… pic.twitter.com/ciJ8xx5UVe
— Geo Political Updates (@GeoPolUpdates) November 16, 2023
His Chinese counterpart, who has repeatedly warned against the “unbearable” consequences of a possible conflict, judged, according to the official English translation of his position, that the two countries cannot “turn their backs” on each other.
“The planet is big enough for both of our countries to prosper,” he said – he repeats it quite often – even though Washington and Beijing have engaged in fierce economic, technological, strategic and military competition.
However, he emphasized to Mr. Biden that the American sanctions harm “legitimate interests of China”.
The previous meeting of the two presidents for life took place a year ago, in November 2022, on the sidelines of the G20 summit, in Bali, Indonesia.
However, the bilateral relationship took a serious deterioration since then, and was even threatened with derailment, due to the story of the Chinese hot air balloon that Washington called a spy and sent a high-tech fighter jet to a high altitude to shoot it down, despite Beijing’s denials.
In March, the Chinese president denounced the American “encirclement” strategy, as Washington continues to strengthen its alliances in Asia and expand its sanctions on Beijing.
However, since the summer, the tone has dropped to an extent that was sufficient to organize the US-China summit in California.
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