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Joe Biden’s suggestion of summit with Xi Jinping falls on deaf ears

US-China relations updates

Joe Biden advised he maintain a face-to-face summit with Chinese language president Xi Jinping throughout a 90-minute name final week however did not safe an settlement from his counterpart, main some US officers to conclude that Beijing is constant to play hardball with Washington.

The US president proposed to Xi that the leaders maintain the summit in an effort to interrupt an deadlock in US-China relations, however a number of folks briefed on the decision mentioned the Chinese language chief didn’t take him up on the supply and as an alternative insisted Washington undertake a much less strident tone in the direction of Beijing.

The White Home had portrayed the call — which passed off at Biden’s request seven months after their first phone dialog — as an opportunity to check if Xi was keen to have interaction severely after a number of diplomatic conferences between US and Chinese language officers garnered little progress.

5 folks briefed on the decision mentioned that whereas Xi had used less abrasive language than his high diplomats had performed this yr, his total message to Biden was that the US should tone down its rhetoric.

Biden has taken a harsh line on China, criticising its therapy of the Uyghurs in Xinjiang, its crackdown on the pro-democracy motion in Hong Kong and its army exercise round Taiwan. Beijing has responded by accusing the Biden administration of interfering in China’s core strategic pursuits.

A sixth individual accustomed to the state of affairs mentioned Biden had floated the summit as certainly one of a number of potentialities for follow-on engagement with Xi, and that the US president had not anticipated a right away response.

One US official briefed on the dialog mentioned that whereas Xi didn’t interact with the thought of a summit, the White Home believed this was partly attributable to issues about Covid-19. Xi has not left China since he went to Myanmar in early 2020 earlier than the outbreak of the pandemic.

The US had thought of the G20 gathering in Italy in October for a doable summit, however Chinese language media have advised that Xi could not attend. He can even not attend the Shanghai Co-operation Organisation assembly this week in Tajikistan, the place China, Russia, India, Pakistan and central Asian nations will focus on Afghanistan.

One other individual accustomed to the Biden-Xi name mentioned it was conceivable that the Chinese language president simply didn’t wish to commit at this explicit cut-off date. A special individual mentioned it was doable that the 2 sides may conform to a video name — a step up from a cellphone name — across the time of the G20. However three folks mentioned the US was upset with Xi’s obvious lack of curiosity in a summit.

The White Home declined to remark earlier than publication of this text however Jake Sullivan, US nationwide safety adviser, later mentioned the account of the Biden-Xi name was not correct.

“This isn’t an correct portrayal of the decision. Interval,” Sullivan mentioned in a press release. “As we’ve mentioned, the presidents mentioned the significance of with the ability to have personal discussions between the 2 leaders, and we’re going to respect that.”

Chinese language accounts of the decision emphasised that it had been initiated by Biden, and quoted Xi as saying that US insurance policies had induced “severe difficulties”. Additionally they famous that the US “seems ahead to extra discussions and co-operation” with China, in language that implied Washington was pushing tougher for engagement than Beijing.

A day after the decision, the Monetary Occasions reported Biden was contemplating allowing Taiwan to change the name of its workplace within the US, from Taipei Financial and Cultural Consultant Workplace to “Taiwan Consultant Workplace. The report prompted an indignant response from China, which fears that such a reputation change would bolster Taiwan’s declare to be a sovereign nation.

Bonnie Glaser, a China knowledgeable on the German Marshall Fund, mentioned it was tough to interpret Xi’s reluctance to carry an in-person summit.

“It might be politically dangerous for Xi to have interaction with President Biden with out certainty that he can get one thing from Biden. He could calculate that it’s safer to solely have interactions on this interval at decrease ranges,” Glaser mentioned. “However there’s additionally the Covid issue, and we don’t understand how a lot weight to connect to that.”

Comply with Demetri Sevastopulo on Twitter

https://www.ft.com/content material/81376b8c-6d97-4d19-b124-6656f27ce976 | Joe Biden’s suggestion of summit with Xi Jinping falls on deaf ears

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