By: Conan Zhang
US President Biden and China’s Chairman, Xi Jinping had their first virtue summit on November 15th. This summit was set towards the improvement of bilateral cooperation but there was no concrete action after three and a half hours of the conference.
The summit had its focus on a wide range of issues, including human rights, climate change, and the economy. However, among all the topics, the future of Taiwan has been one of the major focuses of the globe.
Since the uncertainty of the global pandemic and political concern, Xi has canceled all his traveling plans since January 2020. The two leaders have spoken through telephone twice this year, nevertheless this time they were intended to lead a more exhaustive discussion of the previous issues.
Although the summit was taken place virtually, the place was carefully selected. Xi along with his allies was at the East Hall in the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, Biden and his team were at the Roosevelt Room at the White House.
During the conference, each side has mentioned their dispute which concerns them the most. While the disservice has been deeply rooted which offered little room for compromise. Although Xi called Mr. Biden “my old friend” at the beginning of the summit and used a metaphor that compared the two superpowers to ships that navigate together in the ocean’s wind, under the water, there is disagreement and conflict which is hard to be resolved.
Spotlight focus: Taiwan Affairs
Taiwan affairs are always the most significant issue among China and US. The White House and Xinhua News Agency, the mouthpiece of the Chinese Communist Party, have individually quoted Biden and Xi’s speeches, which demonstrated their respectively different opinions.
According to a statement issued by the White House, Biden said that “the United States is still committed to the ‘One China policy, which is implemented under the guidance of the “Taiwan Relations Act”, the three joint communiqués and the six guarantees.”
While on the other hand, Xinhua News Agency quoted Biden as saying, “The U.S. government is committed to pursuing the long-term and consistent one China’ policy and does not support Taiwan independence.
Despite the fact that Xi Jinping always mentioned Taiwan in the past, This time his words are tougher, and more sounds like a warning. He warned that “Taiwan independence” is “very dangerous. It is playing with fire, and you will burn yourself if you play with fire.” He emphasized that the one-China principle and the three Sino-US joint communiqués are the foundation of China-US relations.
Seek common ground while reserving differences
It is impossible to solve the enormous divisions that occur among the world’s two superpowers through just one meeting. While the virtual summit between Xi Jinping and Joe Biden obviously has removed the concern whether China-US would spiral into a new Cold War. The relationship is rebounding from the Trump era which there was a great misunderstanding. Cooperation of the world is urgently needed, since the COVID pandemic, economic recession, and climate crisis.
Although there is dissension in many ways, the communication was structural and honest, The fact that the summit has taken place for almost four hours is a clear sign that both leaders are putting a great amount of effort to achieve substantive and constructive results. They showed a strong desire to eventually find a way to reach a consensus. And Biden in his word said that we need to have “commonsense guardrails” and prevent the China-US competition from “veering into conflict”.
China-US collaboration and benign competition are appreciated by the world. History has witnessed the benefits of both superpowers working together from the Financial crisis of 2007–2008 to the joint declaration on enhanced climate actions announced recently in Glasgow. Just like what Xi mentioned at the begging of the summit, “Humanity lives in a global village, and we face multiple challenges together. China and the US need to increase communication and co-operation.”