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Biden and Xi’s talks may not move the needle on US-China tensions

Biden described the gathering as one of the most “constructive and productive discussions” he’s had with Xi – although he almost undid the pair’s progress when he ended a press conference saying that he still views his Chinese counterpart as a “dictator”.

The question is: How much of these commitments will stick, and how much can China be trusted to keep to its word?

“The summit yielded some positive outcomes, although whether they produce real progress in narrowing differences remains to be seen,” says China expert Bonnie Glaser, the director of the Asia Program at the German Marshall Fund.

“The agreements to resume counter-narcotics co-operation, to discuss AI, co-operate on climate and restore military dialogues are all significant, but we’ll have to see whether the two sides can achieve something concrete in the weeks and months ahead.”

On the one hand, the summit marked a rare show of co-operation between two superpowers that have been at odds over everything from the Chinese spy balloon scandal and the origins of COVID-19, to human rights and maritime security.

But on the other, tensions remain, most notably when it comes to Taiwan – whose elections in January are likely to be another test of the bilateral relationship. Put simply, China worries that the upcoming polls could lead to talk of independence — one of the “red lines” that Chinese officials have said could force them to take military action. If that were to happen, what would the US do?


Stephen Olson, a senior research fellow at the Hinrich Foundation, argues that while “talking is better than not talking,” the meeting will not meaningfully move the needle on US-China tensions.

“Correctly or incorrectly, China believes the US is determined to block China’s inevitable rise,” he says. “Correctly or incorrectly, the US believes that China is a disruptive force determined to usurp the US-led post-war global system.”

“The discussions in San Francisco have not changed these antagonistic perceptions one iota – for either side.”

https://www.smh.com.au/world/north-america/biden-and-xi-s-talks-may-not-move-the-needle-on-us-china-tensions-20231116-p5ekn7.html?ref=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_source=rss_world Biden and Xi’s talks may not move the needle on US-China tensions

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