U.S.-China relations November 2023-

Written by  //  May 1, 2024  //  China, Geopolitics, U.S.  //  Comments Off on U.S.-China relations November 2023-

Ian Bremmer: The battle over TikTok’s future, explained
Last Wednesday, as part of the sweeping foreign-aid package that included much-needed funding for Ukraine’s defense, President Joe Biden signed into law a bill requiring that TikTok’s Chinese owner, ByteDance, sell the popular video-sharing app to an American buyer within a year or face a ban in the United States.
As I wrote Should the US ban TikTok? a little over a year ago, I think this is a close call but the right move. TikTok is ultimately beholden to the Chinese government, an authoritarian state-capitalist regime locked in an increasingly adversarial strategic competition with the US. As intelligence agencies have warned, the platform poses a national security vulnerability because Beijing can commandeer it to surveil and manipulate Americans. No remedies or assurances to the contrary can mitigate that risk short of a Chinese divestment or an outright ban.
Most importantly, the Chinese Communist Party already bans all US social media apps under the guise of national security. TikTok itself is banned in China, where ByteDance is only allowed to operate a heavily censored version for domestic users. In my ideal world, this would be an area for US-China competition rather than confrontation. Alas, the CCP isn’t taking down its so-called Great Firewall anytime soon, so I see the US divestment/ban order as a fair and reciprocal response that will protect not only US national security but also American social media companies from their most formidable competitor.

25-26 April
Antony Blinken meets with China’s President Xi as US, China spar over bilateral and global issues
(AP) — U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken met Friday with Chinese President Xi Jinping and senior Chinese officials, stressing the importance of “responsibly managing” the differences between the United States and China as the two sides butted heads over a number of contentious bilateral, regional and global issues.
Talks between the two sides have increased in recent months, even as differences have grown. Blinken said he raised concerns with Xi about China’s support for Russia and its invasion of Ukraine, as well as other issues including Taiwan and the South China Sea, human rights and the production and export of synthetic opioid precursors.

U.S.-China ties are ‘beginning to stabilize,’ Chinese minister tells Blinken
(WaPo) … Relations have improved significantly since Blinken last visited 10 months ago. Since then, conversations have become far more routine, enabling the world’s two biggest economies and superpower rivals to return to managing their tense but interdependent relationship.
… Blinken on Friday morning began more than six hours of scheduled meetings with China’s top diplomat, Wang Yi, giving the two sides ample time to air their differences about a host of issues that also include reviving military-to-military discussions and China’s frosty relationship with Taiwan. Beijing has also complained about U.S. efforts to cut off Chinese access to advanced semiconductors that would enable it to make progress on artificial intelligence that could have military applications.

13 April
State Dept. Is Sending Its Top Diplomat for East Asia to China
The announcement comes days after President Biden met jointly with the leaders of Japan and the Philippines to discuss Chinese aggression in the Indo-Pacific region.
(NYT) Daniel J. Kritenbrink, the assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, will travel with Sarah Beran, Mr. Biden’s top China adviser on the National Security Council. They will be in China until Tuesday, meeting with officials “as part of ongoing efforts to maintain open lines of communication and to responsibly manage competition,” according to a statement from the State Department.
China’s moves in the Indo-Pacific region were a focus at the White House this week during a three-day state visit by Prime Minister Fumio Kishida of Japan that ended with a first-ever three-way summit with President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. of the Philippines. That nation has borne the brunt of China’s intimidation campaign in the South China Sea.
Tensions between China and the United States have recently increased amid concern that China might begin a conflict over Taiwan, and because the United States is treaty-bound to defend the Philippines.

12 April
Xi Jinping’s nationalist agenda is rebuilding walls around China
Ian Bremmer
It’s been a rough few years for China’s economy. Between harsh “Zero Covid” policies that shut China off from the rest of the world and major Communist Party crackdowns on private sector industries, the country is in desperate need of an economic jolt. So President Xi Jinping has been on an international charm offensive outside China, hoping to attract foreign investment. But if you look inside China, Xi’s vision is one of extreme nationalist messaging and centralized control that’s hurting his message abroad.

10 April
No Substitute for Victory
America’s Competition With China Must Be Won, Not Managed
By Matt Pottinger and Mike Gallagher
(Foreign Affairs May/June 2024) Amid a presidency beset by failures of deterrence—in Afghanistan, Ukraine, and the Middle East—the Biden administration’s China policy has stood out as a relative bright spot. The administration has strengthened U.S. alliances in Asia, restricted Chinese access to critical U.S. technologies, and endorsed the bipartisan mood for competition. Yet the administration is squandering these early gains by falling into a familiar trap: prioritizing a short-term thaw with China’s leaders at the expense of a long-term victory over their malevolent strategy. The Biden team’s policy of “managing competition” with Beijing risks emphasizing processes over outcomes, bilateral stability at the expense of global security, and diplomatic initiatives that aim for cooperation but generate only complacency.
The United States shouldn’t manage the competition with China; it should win it. Beijing is pursuing a raft of global initiatives designed to disintegrate the West and usher in an antidemocratic order. It is underwriting expansionist dictatorships in Russia, Iran, North Korea, and Venezuela. It has more than doubled its nuclear arsenal since 2020 and is building up its conventional forces faster than any country has since World War II. These actions show that China isn’t aiming for a stalemate. Neither should America.

How stable is the US-China relationship?
Ian Bremmer
The most geopolitically important relationship in the world is fundamentally adversarial and devoid of trust. Its long-term trajectory remains negative, with no prospect of substantial improvement.
And yet, ever since US President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping met at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Woodside, Calif., last November, US-China relations have looked comparatively stable amid a sea of chaos.
In the months that have followed, both sides have continued to seek steadier ties through frequent high-level engagement as well as new dialogue channels on a wide range of policy areas. In January, the US and China resumed military-to-military talks for the first time in nearly two years. On April 2, Biden and Xi spoke by telephone and ratified their ongoing commitment to manage tensions. The presidential call came after the third in-person meeting between US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi in less than a year on Jan. 16-17. It set the stage for US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen’s trip to China this past week – where she met with senior Chinese officials, local and provincial leaders, and top economists – as well as US Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s upcoming visit. Both militaries are currently in the final stages of preparation for a maritime dialogue and a likely ministerial meeting at the Shangri-La Dialogue in June.
However, while better managed than they have been historically, US-China relations are coming under stress from a number of flashpoints that threaten to disrupt the relative calm that has prevailed since Woodside.
… But while these irritants will strain the bilateral relationship, there are still plenty of reasons for both leaders to want to maintain relatively stable ties, at least through the US elections.
Biden can’t afford to start a new war when he’s already managing two abroad – one in Ukraine, one in the Middle East – and fighting another at home. Xi continues to face major domestic economic challenges that require him to be much more geopolitically cautious than he would otherwise. Tensions are further constrained from spiraling out of control by enduring interdependence between the world’s two largest economies, neither of which would benefit from faster decoupling let alone military conflict.
Of course, as we saw both in 2022 with former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan and in 2023 with the Chinese surveillance balloon incident, accidents and miscalculations can easily overwhelm leaders’ ability to manage the tensions. But the communications channels established since November make such flare-ups less likely.
Neither the US nor China want a free-fall in their relationship this year, and thanks to Woodside, they now have the tools to avoid one. The Woodside truce may bend, but it won’t break.

8 April
Will China flood the globe with EVs, green tech? What’s behind latest US-China trade fight
(AP) — China’s burgeoning production of electric cars and other green technologies has become a flashpoint in a new U.S.-China trade fight, highlighted by Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen during her five-day visit to China and seized on by former President Donald Trump in incendiary remarks on the campaign trail.
China has sharply ramped up its production of cheap electric vehicles, solar panels, and batteries just as the Biden administration has pushed through legislation supporting many of those same industries in the United States. Concerns are growing not just in the U.S. but also in Europe and Mexico that China will seek to bolster its own struggling economy with a wave of exports that could undercut factories overseas.

29 March
China decries U.S. ‘bullying.’ But, to many, China is the bully.
Analysis by Ishaan Tharoor
(WaPo) At a regional security forum in the southern Chinese island of Hainan, Beijing laid out its vision for Asian peace and prosperity. But many onlookers interpreted the remarks made by Zhao Leji, the third highest-ranking official in the ruling Communist Party, as another tacit rebuke of the U.S. role in the region and an articulation of China’s hardening desire for a regional order free of U.S. involvement.
“Hegemonic and bullying acts are deeply harmful,” Zhao, a top leader of the Politburo and head of China’s rubber-stamp parliament, said while delivering a keynote speech at the annual Boao Forum. He did not mention the United States by name but was clearly gesturing to Washington’s open competition with China, tensions over strategic flash points in Asia and the ongoing trade wars pursued by successive U.S. administrations. “We must oppose trade protectionism and all forms of erecting barriers, decoupling or severing supply chains,” he added.
Under President Xi Jinping, China has put forward a somewhat vague project known as the Global Security Initiative — a set of broad-brush principles that, as the Financial Times summed up, “advocates for resolving conflicts through dialogue but which analysts believe ultimately aims to reduce America’s role in global defense, particularly in Asia.” At the forum, Zhao said “we should implement” the initiative.
Other countries in China’s neighborhood are not likely to be convinced.

22 February
China plans to send San Diego Zoo more pandas this year, reintroducing panda diplomacy
(AP) — China plans to send a new pair of giant pandas to the San Diego Zoo, renewing its longstanding gesture of friendship toward the United States after a recalling nearly all the iconic bears on loan to U.S. zoos as relations soured between the two nations.
The China Wildlife Conservation Association has signed cooperation agreements with zoos in San Diego and Madrid, the Spanish capital, and is in talks with zoos in Washington, D.C. and Vienna, the Chinese organization said, describing the deals as a new round of collaboration on panda conservation.

6 February
Is the US-China relationship the most consequential relationship for America in the world?
Brookings Editor’s note:
In this written debate, the authors address the title question with essay-length opening statements. The statements are followed by an interactive series of exchanges between authors on each other’s arguments. The goal of this product is not to reach any conclusion on the question, but to offer a rigorous examination of the choices and trade-offs that confront the United States in its competition with China.
The most consequential relationship in the world? – Graham T. Allison
History is not kind to superlatives – Josh M. Cartin
The incredible, shrinking bilateral relationship – Elizabeth Economy
China matters, for better or worse: Our choice – Susan A. Thornton

25 January
US and China set up back-channel meetings as pressure over Yemen grows
(GZERO media) US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan will reportedly meet with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi behind closed doors in the coming days to discuss the Middle East and Taiwan.
… Taiwan on the agenda. …it’s a chance for Washington and Beijing…to speak frankly about boundaries over the self-governing island, minimizing risks to the stability of the US-China relationship.
But the Houthi issue may be more pressing, as the Iran-backed rebel group’s attacks on Red Sea are posing a broader risk to the global economy. Some 15% of global trade normally passes through the Red Sea, including crucial cargoes of oil, natural gas, and grains.
The US…has also been asking Beijing to use its good offices with Iran to ask Tehran to restrain the Houthis. Beijing’s reaction has essentially amounted to “sinking ships is bad, but you’re on your own, pal.” In part that may be because the Houthis have promised not to attack Chinese ships, a pledge that some Chinese shipping companies are capitalizing on. Still, if the Red Sea choke-out starts to have wider effects on the global economy, China – still nursing a slow post-pandemic recovery – may start to see things differently.
China presses Iran to rein in Houthi attacks in Red Sea, sources say
By Parisa Hafezi and Andrew Hayley

23 January
The US wants to end its reliance on Chinese lithium. Its policies are doing the opposite.
(Atlantic Council) The United States has a lithium problem. More precisely, US demand for lithium is growing exponentially while access to secure supplies of lithium is becoming more tenuous. But it isn’t the United States’ ubiquitous use of products such as smartphones, laptops, and Bluetooth headphones—or even the demand for life-saving devices such as pacemakers and carbon-monoxide detectors—that is causing the problem. The amount of lithium used in these products is tiny compared to the lithium needed for electric vehicles (EVs), semiconductors, and specialized batteries. The average EV battery, for example, needs about eight kilograms of lithium, whereas an iPhone battery uses less than one gram of the metal.
The United States desperately needs to hasten the development of supply chains for critical minerals that don’t involve China and Chinese companies for both commercial and national security interests.
… China’s supremacy over the lithium supply chain is no accident. China purposefully and through insidious methods engineered control over the global lithium supply chain. According to a 2021 White House Report, the Chinese government funneled $100 billion in subsidies, rebates, and tax exemptions to Chinese companies and Chinese consumers between 2009 and 2019 to dominate the global lithium refining industry, before global demand for lithium soared.

5 January
China calls for peaceful coexistence and promises pandas on the 45th anniversary of U.S.-China ties
(AP) — Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said Friday that the United States and China must insist on peaceful coexistence and transcend their differences like they did when they established diplomatic relations 45 years ago this week.
Wang also promised that giant pandas would return to the U.S. — and specifically California — by the end of the year.
“China-U.S. cooperation is no longer a dispensable option for the two countries or even for the world, but a must-answer question that must be seriously addressed,” he said.


29 December
Zhou Bo: How a ‘vulnerable’ China can resolve its Indian Ocean security dilemma
How can Beijing protect its assets abroad without being embroiled in regional conflicts? The answer does not lie in more military bases or joining the US-led Red Sea coalition
(SCMP) In response to the Houthis attacking ships in the Red Sea bound for Israel, the US recently announced Operation Prosperity Guardian, a security initiative that initially included more than 20 countries, such as Bahrain, Britain, Canada, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Seychelles and Spain.
But France, Italy and Spain have reportedly dropped out of the US-led coalition and many others decline to acknowledge their involvement. That Bahrain is the only Arab state offering public support speaks volumes about the Arab world’s apathy towards the US – if not resentment of America’s strong support for Israel’s war on Hamas.
It is strange to hear the US call on Beijing to play “a constructive role in trying to prevent those attacks from taking place”. China should have no such influence on the Houthis, a Yemeni militant group. Instead, should the Chinese naval flotilla operating in the Bab-el-Mandeb strait join the American-led operation, it would compromise China’s position on the Israel-Hamas war and endanger Chinese ships.
If there are still Chinese merchant ships sailing through the Red Sea, the Chinese flotilla should sail northwards to protect them, of course. Chinese warships have previously sailed from the Gulf of Aden to evacuate Chinese nationals from war-torn Libya, Yemen and Sudan.

11-12 December
Who’s panicking over Chinese hackers?
Matthew Kendrick
(GZERO media) US utilities have suffered a rash of breaches by Chinese hackers this year, and Taiwan is asking the US government for training to beat similar attacks — but don’t think for a minute cyberwarfare is a one-sided game.
“I have no doubt that the US has been doing the same things to China,” said Xiaomeng Lu, Eurasia Group’s geotechnology director, referring to utility breaches and attempts to access classified information. “Probably more successfully, because the US offensive capability is more sophisticated.”
In fact, she said, America has both the offensive and defensive edge over China in cybersecurity thanks to its innovative high-tech and cybersecurity sectors. US breaches of China’s cybersecurity, however, don’t often make the headlines. Beijing isn’t eager to broadcast that it has been hacked, and the US doesn’t benefit from bragging.
Still, the US is plenty concerned about China’s activities: Beijing is deliberately targeting critical infrastructure in places like Hawai’i and the Pacific island US protectorate of Guam, which would both be crucial to US support for Taiwan in the case of an invasion.
And with Taiwanese elections exactly one month away — and the most anti-China candidate, William Lai, in the lead — Washington needs to be prepared for any eventuality. If Lai wins, Beijing is likely to amp up its harassment of Taiwan, both with its conventional military and online.
China’s cyber army is invading critical U.S. services
A utility in Hawaii, a West Coast port and a pipeline are among the victims in the past year, officials say
By Ellen Nakashima and Joseph Menn
(WaPo) The Chinese military is ramping up its ability to disrupt key American infrastructure, including power and water utilities as well as communications and transportation systems, according to U.S. officials and industry security officials.
Hackers affiliated with China’s People’s Liberation Army have burrowed into the computer systems of about two dozen critical entities over the past year, these experts said.
The intrusions are part of a broader effort to develop ways to sow panic and chaos or snarl logistics in the event of a U.S.-China conflict in the Pacific, they said.

1-2 December
China’s Pacific Coercion: A Conversation with Former President of Micronesia, David Panuelo
Cleo Paskal: Is the U.S. about to lose critical defense access in the Pacific? What happens when a country thinks about recognizing Taiwan? What does PRC political warfare look like to a head of state of a targeted country? What happens when a head of state writes about PRC gray zone activity in their country?
Between 2022 and early 2023, then president of FSM, David W. Panuelo, wrote three letters describing in unprecedented detail for a head of state Chinese activity in his country and in the Pacific Islands area. He warned that not only were PRC activities corrupting the FSM and undermining democracy, they were an intrinsic part of Beijing Taiwan contingency planning.
Former President (2019 – 2023) of the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) David W. Panuelo spoke at Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD) on this and more.

30 November
Cleo Paskal writes: Chinese citizens can legally arrive in the United States without a visa, and Congress is asking Homeland to reconsider the wisdom of that position. Today 28 Members of Congress and 4 Senators wrote to Secretary Mayorkas to urge him to ensure that Chinese tourists coming to the Commonwealth of Northern Marianas (CNMI) – and yes, that is the U.S.A. – need visas, just like they do in the rest of the United States.
A range of crimes have been committed by PRC citizens who arrived in CNMI under the ‘parole’ system, including illegally taking boats to nearby and highly strategic Guam, drug trafficking, illegal labor and more. The letter explains the situation very well.
See Northern Mariana: Time to close China’s backdoor into the U.S. (3 September)

20/29 November
When Biden met Xi and what’s going on with the US and China (TED video)
US President Joe Biden and President of the People’s Republic of China Xi Jinping recently met in San Francisco. It was the first time Xi had visited the US in six years — and the first time the two leaders had met in person in a year. Geopolitical expert Ian Bremmer explains the implications of the meeting, sharing context and insight on areas where the pair agree — and flagging key areas where tensions might yet arise. (This conversation with TED’s Helen Walters was recorded on November 20, 2023.)
Americans sometimes lump china in w/ other adversaries like Russia, Iran, North Korea…but they shouldn’t.
China is not a pariah. China doesn’t benefit from global chaos.
The Chinese & Americans have more in common geopolitically than you might think.

14-16 November
Last dance with China?​
Evan Solomon
(GZERO North) With the Russia-Ukraine war and the Israel-Hamas war raging, the US can’t just pivot away from its old stomping grounds, and yet it can’t pivot away from China either. China is similarly stuck. It’s suffering from slow growth and wants to make sure the world doesn’t descend into chaotic wars that might screw up its export markets, so it also needs to start dancing with the US again.
That’s why Chinese President Xi Jinping slid on over to San Francisco to meet with President Joe Biden for the second time. They have got to start dancing again. What is the metric of success here? It’s a low bar. Open up lines of communication. Put a floor under the deteriorating relationship. Avoid a war in Taiwan. Get back to business.
On the plus side, they reestablished military-to-military communications, which is important in a world where Chinese planes and ships are dangerously buzzing US and other NATO military assets in international waters near Taiwan. A bad accident could trigger a nightmare scenario, so a direct line matters. And they made progress on stopping the deadly fentanyl export problem.
But they didn’t get much done on rules around AI, semiconductor exports, or efforts to help stop the war in the Middle East by leaning on Iran. And Taiwan remains a festering diplomatic wound. So this ain’t no thaw. Oh, and, Biden called Xi a “dictator” immediately after their sit-down, so …
Still, the fact that they met and talked is a huge win.

Experts react: What did Biden and Xi’s ‘candid’ meeting accomplish?
By Atlantic Council experts
Biden seems to have made the most of his meeting with Xi, which achieved the admittedly low bar for success, at least in the near term. … The get-together offered Xi plenty of photos to use for a campaign to try to woo foreign investors back to the Chinese market, a key priority for Xi as he seeks to bolster the Chinese economy. (Following the Biden meeting, Xi dined with American business executives.) The two leaders covered a lot of ground in their private discussion, according to Biden’s recap during his press conference afterward, even if no resolution was reached on some specific US requests such as the release of US citizens being detained in China. Two of the summit’s three primary deliverables were widely expected The third was less anticipated but notable: coordination on AI risks and safety issues. And the overarching message of the summit was clear—that both sides see value in stabilizing the relationship and are committed to maintaining high-level communication even as they continue to vigorously compete.

Dexter Tiff Roberts: Xi is putting on a friendly face as China’s economy slumps

Hung Tran: This relationship needs more than ‘guardrails’

Kenton Thibaut: How China is shaping the narratives of the meeting—with the Global South in mind

Andrew A. Michta: China’s military buildup will continue to destabilize the region

Joseph Webster: Climate talks were constructive but insufficient

Matt Geraci: While the US turns away from trade agreements, China seeks more

Biden, Xi’s ‘blunt’ talks yield deals on military, fentanyl
(Reuters) – U.S. President Joe Biden and Chinese leader Xi Jinping agreed on Wednesday to open a presidential hotline, resume military-to-military communications and work to curb fentanyl production, showing tangible progress in their first face-to-face talks in a year.
China’s Xi tells Biden as talks open: ‘Planet Earth is big enough for the two countries to succeed’
(AP) — U.S. President Joe Biden and China’s Xi Jinping plunged into their first-face-to-face meeting in more than a year Wednesday pledging to work to stabilize fraught relations in talks with far-reaching implications for a world grappling with economic cross currents and wars in the Middle East and Europe.
“Planet Earth is big enough for the two countries to succeed,” Xi told Biden.
The U.S. president told Xi: “I think it’s paramount that you and I understand each other clearly, leader-to-leader, with no misconceptions or miscommunications. We have to ensure competition does not veer into conflict.”
… Biden is focused on managing the two powers’ increasingly fierce economic competition and keeping open lines of communication to prevent misunderstandings that could lead to direct conflict.
While he was expected to defend U.S. expansion of export controls on semiconductor chips, he also was to assure Xi that the U.S. is not trying to wage economic war with Beijing amid continuing signs that China’s economy is struggling to recover from the disruptions of the pandemic.
Xi, meanwhile, was looking for assurances from Biden that the U.S. will not support Taiwan independence, start a new Cold War or suppress China’s economic growth. He was also keen to show the U.S. that China is still a good place to invest.
Lush, private Northern California estate is site for Xi-Biden meeting

Sunnylands Statement on Enhancing Cooperation to Address the Climate Crisis
Recalling the meeting between President Xi Jinping and President Joseph R. Biden in Bali, Indonesia, the United States and China reaffirm their commitment to work jointly and together with other countries to address the climate crisis.
China and US push through tensions in reaching climate deal
The two countries agreed to new commitments ahead of upcoming climate talks, but the relationship between the world’s top two emitters remains “challenging.”
(Politico) The relationship between the two nations is still “challenging,” said Li Shuo, a policy adviser for Greenpeace Asia. The joint statement amounts to “floor setting” rather than “tone setting,” but he said the pact would help “stabilize the politics” for the upcoming climate talks, known as COP 28.

10-14 November
Biden-Xi meeting offers both leaders opportunities — and risks
Each president has room back home to ease tensions, polling has found.
(NBC) Simply by sitting down with his Chinese counterpart Wednesday, President Joe Biden may go a long way toward calming voters who fear that the two global powers are on a march to war.
After a fraught year marked by near misses in the skies between U.S. and Chinese warplanes, both Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping need the meeting…, if for no other reason than to reassure a jittery world audience that they are once again talking, foreign policy experts said.
Before he left Tuesday for San Francisco, Biden told reporters that the purpose of the meeting is “to get back on a normal course of corresponding: being able to pick up the phone and talk to one another if there’s a crisis, being able to make sure our militaries still have contact with one another.”
Each president seems to have space back home to ease tensions, polling suggests. A Morning Consult survey showed that the share of Chinese adults who view the U.S. in hostile terms has dropped 9 points since April. Another survey found that only 13% of U.S. voters wanted an aggressive approach toward China, while a majority worried more about open conflict with China than about the U.S.’ not appearing tough enough in its dealings with Beijing.
Don’t expect Xi to restore the US-China military hotline this week
Even if the hotline is restored, China seems unlikely to use it much
Michael E. O’Hanlon, a senior fellow, and director of research in Foreign Policy, Brookings
(Brookings) When President Joe Biden meets Chinese President Xi Jinping this week in San Francisco, the two leaders will have much to discuss in a badly overdue meeting. But by all accounts, one agenda item will be of dubious promise: Biden’s request that the two countries restore their military-to-military hotline that China has refused to employ in recent years.
It is fine for Biden to make the request, but he should expect “no” to be the answer — and avoid conveying too much U.S. anxiety over the two nations’ military tensions in the Western Pacific. In fact, U.S. anxiety is not just an unintended consequence of Chinese actions — it is likely their very goal. Thus, expressing too much concern would in some ways validate and encourage China’s strategy.
The Biden administration is focused on creating a framework for dialogue with China — not concrete deliverables — ahead of a closely-watched meeting between the U.S. president and Chinese paramount leader Xi Jinping confirmed for Wednesday.
When President Joe Biden meets Xi Jinping on Wednesday the two sides aren’t expected to make much headway over central disagreements looming over U.S.-China trading relations, according to Biden administration officials.
The Biden administration plans to keep the focus broad rather than delve into specifics, such as bilateral tariffs, the officials said. But the discussion still offers a chance to make progress toward the resumption of military-to-military communications and an agreement to crack down on China’s role in fueling the flow of fentanyl into the United States.
… “I certainly expect that the question of economic and trade relationship to be on the agenda,” the official said after being asked by POLITICO whether the pair would discuss Section 301 tariffs. “The president at every meeting and engagement [with Xi] has brought up the importance of a level playing field for American companies and of course that’s an integral part of the 301. But I don’t anticipate that we’ll get into the details.”
Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen concluded two days of talks on Friday with Chinese Vice Premier He Lifeng, Beijing’s new economic czar, who demanded earnest actions from Yellen on issues including “sanctions on and suppression of Chinese enterprises, export controls against China, and extra tariffs,” Chinese state news agency Xinhua reported on Saturday.
(Bloomberg) President Joe Biden and Chinese leader Xi Jinping will sit down on Nov. 15 after a year of rising tensions over Taiwan, trade and even a spy balloon. Each leader has a list of concerns: Xi wants to calm foreign investors, Biden wants a resumption of military talks and greater transparency. But it’s Xi who needs a good meeting more than Biden does, Minxin Pei writes in Bloomberg Opinion. “Most obviously, Sino-US tensions are destroying investor confidence and making China ‘un-investable,’” he said. Another question after three beloved pandas were sent from American zoos back to China: Will panda diplomacy ever return?

8 November
Pandas are the latest victims of tensions between the U.S. and China
(Politico) The Smithsonian National Zoo’s three giant pandas are returning to China, as tensions between Washington and Beijing fester.
(The World) President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping will meet Wednesday (15 November) in California for talks on trade, Taiwan and managing fraught US-Chinese relations in the first engagement between the leaders of the world’s two biggest economies in nearly a year. The White House has said for weeks that it anticipated Biden and Xi would meet on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in San Francisco, but negotiations went down to the eve of the gathering, which kicks off Saturday. Next week’s meeting comes as the United States braces for a potentially bumpy year for US-Chinese relations, with Taiwan set to hold a presidential election in January and the US holding its own presidential election next November.
The Giant Pandas Have Left the National Zoo. What’s Next for U.S.-China Relations?
The departure comes amid intensifying relations between Washington and Beijing over security, economic and humanitarian issues.
D.C.’s pandas leave for China, ending an era for animal lovers
(WaPo) The exit of all pandas from the United States comes at a moment of strained U.S.-China relations. Experts believe China’s decision not to renew or sign new leases with U.S. zoos is a reflection of the current tensions in the two countries’ complicated diplomatic relationship.

What is APEC? Asia-Pacific leaders head to San Francisco
(Reuters) Like most international gatherings, APEC has become a stage for strategic competition between the U.S. and China, the world’s two largest economies, and all eyes will be on an expected bilateral summit on the sidelines between U.S. President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping.
Joe Biden, Xi Jinping set to steal APEC spotlight with talks to steady ties
(Reuters) – U.S. President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping are expected to hold summit talks in San Francisco next week as they seek to stabilize tense ties by meeting in-person for just the second time in nearly three years, but little bonhomie and no grand bargains appear in the offing.
The summit on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum follows a six-month U.S. push to engage its geopolitical rival, including through several unreciprocated cabinet-level visits, and recover from a diplomatic crisis over the U.S. downing of an alleged Chinese spy balloon in February.
What do you expect from the Biden-Xi meeting at APEC?
Ian Bremmer: Well, it’s definitely happening. Big summit next week in San Francisco. I’ll be there, should be a lot of fun. And look, the Chinese, they don’t agree with the United States on a lot of policies. There’s not a lot of trust in the relationship, but they are adults. And in that regard, they do want ultimately a level of stability. They don’t want the world to burn. They’d like, for example, the Israel-Hamas conflict to be over soon. They’d like Russia-Ukraine to be over soon. They’re not taking a leadership role on any of these things. And the US meeting, the Biden meeting with Xi, I suspect, is going to be reasonably strong because there’s been so much prep for it on a bunch of issues that both countries are trying to build some stability. Fentanyl, for example, artificial intelligence, for example, climate, for example. Having said all of that, Taiwan and technology are the big bugbears in the relationship. And right now they’re both heading in a more problematic direction, not in a better one.

Hostility toward the U.S. in China has dropped sharply, new poll shows
(Axios) Attitudes in China have become friendlier to the U.S. this year, according to a new survey from Morning Consult. One factor could be the slowdown in China’s economy.
Why it matters: After several years of spiraling bilateral relations and deepening distrust, the shift in views could help support a thaw as both U.S. and Chinese leaders work to improve dialogue and stabilize relations.President Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping are expected to meet this weekend at the APEC summit in San Francisco, their first meeting since the G20 summit in Indonesia last year.

6 November
Tasha Kheiriddin: Can Biden-Xi meeting ease tensions?
In the lead-up to the upcoming meeting between US President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping at the APEC Summit in San Francisco, America’s China policy chief sat down with Beijing’s top border official to discuss the increasingly volatile situation in the South China and East China Seas.
US Department of State’s China Coordinator Mark Lambert spoke with Chinese Foreign Office’s Director-General for Boundary and Ocean Affairs Hong Liang in Beijing, with both sides attempting to lower the temperature after another week of tensions in the region.
On Friday, Canadian Defence Minister Bill Blair accused Chinese warplanes of buzzing a Canadian helicopter over international waters in the South China Sea and firing flares at it, endangering the crew. On Saturday, China’s Defence Ministry hit back that the helicopter had “unknown intent” and engaged in a “malicious” and “provocative” act with “ulterior motives.”
These salvos come the same week that China accused a Philippine military vessel of sailing too close to Scarborough Shoal, territory that China seized in 2012, but which falls within the Philippine’s Exclusive Economic Zone according to international maritime law. And late last month, Manila accused a Chinese coast guard ship of ramming two Philippine ships near Second Thomas, or Ayungin, Shoal, which also lies within its EEZ.
This backdrop sets the tone not only for Biden and Xi’s meeting, but for Taiwan’s presidential elections, scheduled for January 2024. According to Rick Waters, managing director of Eurasia Group’s China practice and, until recently, the State Department’s deputy assistant secretary for China and Taiwan, “The challenge for the [US] president going into the meetings in San Francisco is going to be this: if you look carefully at what the Chinese say about Biden and about his Taiwan policy, they don’t doubt his intentions.” Biden has stated on four occasions that the US would defend Taiwan in the event of an attack by China.

19 November
Cleo Paskal Three upcoming events that could torpedo Pacific peace
Across the Pacific, aided in some cases by the domestic policy confusion of others, the Chinese Communist Party is on the march.
Three things are going on that could turbo charge Chinese strategic expansion in the Pacific.

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