/ 08 October 2021

Biden and Xi to chew the fat

Image source: Getty
Image source: Getty

THE SQUIZ
US President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping will hold their first formal talks before the end of the year. The summit won’t be in person – the leaders of the world’s 2 largest economies will do it via a secure video call. Xi has not left China in nearly 2 years and will not make in-person appearances at the G20 leaders’ summit in Rome at the end of this month or at the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow in early November. The relationship between the nations is at its lowest point in decades, experts say. But during a call last month –  the pair’s second conversation since Biden was inaugurated – they agreed that there was too little communication between their governments.

SO THINGS ARE BACK ON TRACK?
Whoa, Nelly… There’s a reason the nations hit the skids big time when former President Donald Trump was in office. And Biden lined up with him on a lot of those issues, so many remain unresolved. As the White House said yesterday, its list of things to address with China includes “human rights, Xinjiang, Hong Kong, the South China Sea, and Taiwan.” For China’s part, it sees itself as an equal of the US and does not appreciate being told how to manage its affairs. Note: Taiwan is a major focus at the moment – and not just because former PM Tony Abbott is there and speaking in support of the breakaway Chinese territory. There are growing concerns that China could use force to achieve unification as Taiwan’s government edges towards a formal declaration of independence.

I’M HEARING PROBLEMS, NOT SOLUTIONS…
Soz but there’s been no end to the tension caused by China’s rise. And it’s changed the dynamic in our Indo-Pacific region dramatically. The US, Australia, and the UK’s answer is AUKUS, which defence analysts say is a huge strategic move. And the reason why the new deal to provide nuclear-powered submarines to Oz is such a big deal is that they are “capable of popping up anywhere along the Chinese coast or running through disputed areas of the South China Sea.” No doubt it’s something our government will talk through with the returning French Ambassador… With all of that baggage, advisers will need to work hard to formulate some icebreakers for Biden and Xi to kick things off when they finally meet in the coming weeks.

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