Analysis: the United States has stopped pretending it is not trying to contain China

President Joe Biden and President Xi Jinping will meet virtually on Monday after a tumultuous start for the Biden administration to manage relations with Beijing. After years of insisting that the United States is not trying to contain China, no one in Washington is faking it anymore.
While Beijing would prefer Washington to mind its own business, the list of US complaints is long and growing. Most alarming is the intense pressure exerted by China on the autonomous island of Taiwan amid a debate in Washington over what to do in the event of an invasion and deep concern over the build-up of conventional weapons. and nuclear by China. The Biden administration also accuses the Xi government of exaggerating its hand in land disputes in the South China Sea, of committing genocide against Uyghur Muslims in Xinjiang province and of gutting democracy in Hong Kong. He is also frustrated that China has not done more to explain the origins of Covid-19 in Wuhan.

The two leaders enter the talks – which are taking place online because Xi has not left China since the start of the pandemic – in contrasting political positions.

Xi has acted aggressively to consolidate his own power and is expected to secure an almost unprecedented third five-year term next year after the Communist Party elevated him to the same symbolic stature as former leaders Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping. .

Biden – who, unlike Xi, faces the complications of democracy – struggles to stabilize a presidency hammered by the aftermath of the pandemic and a perfect storm of rising inflation and gas prices that has rocked his approval ratings, though he’s made strides in re-energizing US alliances with an eye on China. Economic concerns weigh on both.

Given the wide rift between the parties and the political imperative for the two leaders to stand firm against each other at this time, tangible steps to ease tensions are unlikely to emerge from the talks. But agreeing not to let tensions escalate would be a start.

“An opportunity for the two leaders to discuss how to manage competition responsibly”

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken called on his Chinese counterpart Foreign Minister Wang Yi on Friday in preparation for the summit tasked with their bosses.

“The meeting provides an opportunity for the two leaders to discuss how to responsibly manage competition between the United States and the (People’s Republic of China) while working together in areas where interests align,” according to the appeal released by the US State Department. reading said.


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