Biden’s talk with Xi underscores the deepening of the bilateral deadlock

This grudge suggests that the two leaders have exhausted any remaining goodwill created by them virtual meeting in November and will likely reinforce the Biden administration’s China policy, which depends on rallying allies to counter its influence in the Indo-Pacific and beyond.

“Xi pointed out that US-China relations have not yet emerged from the predicament created by the previous US administration, but instead have encountered increasing challenges,” said a Chinese foreign ministry Reading from the call called. “The US side misunderstood and misjudged China’s strategic intentions.”

A statement from the Biden administration from the call underscored the lack of substantive progress in moving Xi towards a more proactive and helpful role in handling the Ukraine crisis.

“President Biden has made clear the implications and consequences if China were to materially assist Russia in pursuing its brutal war in Ukraine, not just for China’s relationship with the United States but for the entire world,” a senior administration official said. “[But] The President did not really make any specific requests to China, he presented his assessment of the situation, what he thinks makes sense and the impact of certain measures. I think we think China will make its own decisions.”

A message from China’s foreign ministry just hours before Xi’s call to Biden suggested that any decisions China makes on the Ukraine crisis are unlikely to meet US expectations. Instead, the Chinese government appears to be redoubling its alignment with Russia and opposing US efforts to force Russian President Vladimir Putin to end the war in Ukraine.

“What the US should do is seriously consider its role in the Ukraine crisis and the role it has played, assume its due responsibilities effectively, and take practical measures to defuse the situation and resolve the issue , rather than fueling the fire and the shifting issues,” said a spokesman for China’s foreign ministry said Zhao Lijian. “Why is the US blaming China for the Ukraine crisis instead of considering the security situation in Europe caused by US-led NATO’s eastward expansion?”

This position came with Xi’s implicit denial of Russia’s responsibility for the violence, while barring China from any direct role in ending the violence beyond repeating Beijing’s “Six Points Initiative‘ which depends on broad international support to deal with the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine, rather than China pursuing a diplomatic initiative to end the fighting. “The United States and NATO should also engage in dialogue with Russia to untie the knot behind the Ukraine crisis and address security concerns from both Russia and Ukraine.” Xi’s ad said.

The lack of any substantive findings from the Biden-Xi discussion calls into question whether the The personal relationship between two leaders promoted while Biden was vice president can actually bridge deep differences between them.

“The personal relationship was never intended to override national interests that are in conflict, but it did provide a basis for partial communication, but that has essentially been undone,” said Chas Freeman, former US deputy chief of mission Embassy in Beijing.

The lack of concrete results from the call also suggests that the mutual goodwill fostered by their virtual meeting in November was tested by simmering disagreements over trade, Taiwan, human rights abuses in Xinjiang and military tensions in the Indo-Pacific.

“If progress is the measure of success, then no, it wasn’t a success. … We are at an ongoing impasse here, constantly repeating positions that the other side sees as stubborn,” said Robert Daly, director of the Kissinger Institute on China and the United States at the Wilson Center.

Xi kept China’s rapprochement with Russia on Ukraine’s heels, repeating a mild call that “all parties should work together to support Russian-Ukrainian dialogue and negotiations to achieve results and peace.”

“It is clear that China’s overall stance on the conflict has not changed, or that Beijing sees a role for China in ending the conflict,” Alison Szalwinski, vice president for research at the National Bureau of Asian Research, said in a statement. “Instead, Xi blamed the US and NATO for the war, charging these Western powers to ‘untie the knot’ and resolve security concerns between Ukraine and Russia.”

This position has profoundly negative implications for bilateral relations. “The decisions Xi makes on whether to provide material assistance to Russia economically or militarily … will determine whether the US and China will face the new Cold War that both leaders say they want to avoid,” said Bonnie Glaser, Asia Program Director at the German Marshall Fund of the USA

The central US position that Biden articulated in his talk with Xi was the US expectation that China would refuse any support to Putin’s war machine. Those concerns were compounded by Friday’s revelations that EU executives owned “very reliable evidence‘ that China is considering military aid to Russia. The White House has threatened Beijing with sanctions if it complies with Russia’s request, prompting a sharp rebuke from Xi in talks with Biden.

“People will suffer if we impose sweeping and indiscriminate sanctions. Further escalation will also be a serious crisis in global trade and in the economy, finance, energy, food, [and] industrial supply chains, etc., which will exacerbate the already troubled global economy and cause irreparable damage,” according to the Chinese Foreign Ministry reading the call called.

Xi’s main talking point on the conference call was China’s concerns about the US relationship with Taiwan. Earlier this month Biden sent out a heavyweight A-Team of five former senior US security and defense officials led by Mike Mullen, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, for a meeting senior members of President Tsai Ing-wen’s government. Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo later in the same week insulted the injury perceived by Chinese Call for the USA to offer the self-governing island diplomatic recognition “as a free and sovereign country”. Xi was clearly paying attention.

“Some people in the United States have sent false signals to ‘Taiwan independence’ forces, which is very dangerous,” Xi told Biden. “If the Taiwan issue is not handled properly, it will have a subversive impact on the relationship between the two countries.”

Biden responded by saying US policy on Taiwan remains unchanged. But he made it clear that the US is concerned about intensification Intimidation by the Chinese military against Taiwan. “He also underscored his concern about provocative actions in the cross-straits,” said the senior administration official. “President Biden has made it clear that we remain opposed to unilateral changes to the status quo across the straits.”

Xi is unlikely to make any major course corrections to his political stances on Russia and Ukraine any time soon as he begins a historic third term as Chinese president at the 20th Congress later this year. Xi’s joint statement with Putin on February 4 a “No Limits” alliance has cornered him domestically.

“Xi cannot even tacitly admit a mistake this year when he is due to be anointed for a third term or as leader for life,” Daly said. “This claim to expand this leadership is based on his wisdom and his infallibility, so yes, Xi Jinping put China in a very difficult position.”

Expect GOP lawmakers to make short work of any justifications Xi might have for maintaining his alignment with the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

“To protect the peace, the United States must pressure China to join global partners in condemning Russia’s unjust attack on Ukraine, and stand ready to uphold it.” [China Communist Party] responsible if they choose to support tyranny,” said Rep. Diana Harshbarger (R-Tenn.), a member of the GOP China Accountability Task Force. “A small promise not to do anything is not enough when lives are at stake.” Biden’s talk with Xi underscores the deepening of the bilateral deadlock

Fry Electronics Team

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