Al-Jazeerah: Cross-Cultural Understanding
Opinion Editorials, November 2021
Failure not an option after virtual summit gives reason for hope
SCMP Editorial, 17 Nov, 2021
Talks between presidents Xi Jinping and Joe Biden just may have cleared the air over Taiwan but plenty of challenges lie ahead, particularly on the economic front
Antagonism and distrust between China and the United States gave little reason to expect that the first virtual summit between President Xi Jinping and his American counterpart, Joe Biden, would make much difference. But that remains to be seen.
It may have paved the way for the two powers to turn a new page. The meeting lasted for three hours and 38 minutes, including a half-hour extension to accommodate all the issues between them – usually a good sign.
China described the meeting as candid, constructive, practical and fruitful. The two leaders eased tensions over contentious issues.
Their clearing of the air over Taiwan comes as a relief to all sides. Biden reaffirmed Washington’s commitment to the one-China policy, notwithstanding the development of closer ties with the self-ruled island.
Xi Jinping and Joe Biden call for mutual respect and peaceful China-US coexistence
Xi said China would show patience and sincerity in waiting for peaceful reunification, unless provoked. Both sides in their own ways backed the status quo.
Biden came to the summit with his political stock bolstered by passage of his trillion-dollar infrastructure package. Xi briefed Biden about the just concluded sixth plenum, saying it was his honour to serve 1.4 billion Chinese people, which can be seen as a subtle message that the ruling party has consolidated his position and the US can expect to have to do business with China under his leadership for some time.
In that regard Xi raised three guiding principles: mutual respect; peaceful coexistence; and win-win cooperation.
The presence at the summit of US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen and Xi’s top economic adviser Liu He says a lot about the focus of the bilateral relationship in the immediate future – the economy and trade. The phase one trade war deal expires in January, with little prospect of China meeting its US import quota and Washington needing to explain why to a domestic audience.
They can blame it on Covid-19, but China needs to look like it is trying, with some big purchases such as more Boeing aircraft.
Yellen has indicated the US may consider removing tariffs on Chinese goods in certain areas, a logical response to growing inflationary expectations since tariffs are an indirect consumer tax. There is talk that in the next trade deal the US will focus on Chinese state subsidies, which would explain why Xi, in his opening speech at the recent Shanghai import expo, said China was willing to discuss its subsidy regime.
Xi said China was willing to engage with the US on matters ranging from economic development to energy, militaries, education, technology, cyberspace and environmental protection.
“In the next 50 years, the most important thing in international relations is that China and the United States must find the right way to get along,” Xi was quoted as saying.
History would be the judge if their leaders failed the test.
China steps up opening up, supply chain security charm offensive in wake of Biden-Xi summit
Following the meeting between Xi Jinping and Joe Biden, Chinese Vice-President Wang Qishan and Premier Li Keqiang spoke about China opening up further Li also said that China wanted to work with all countries to keep industry and supply chains stable and enhance coordination of macro economic policies
SCMP, 17 Nov, 2021
China’s leadership has ramped up its charm offensive with pledges for further opening up to foreign investment and more engagement in stabilising global supply chains following the meeting between President Xi Jinping and his US counterpart Joe Biden amid ongoing worries over the slowdown in the domestic economy.
Some 24 hours after Xi and Biden met for the first time via video on Tuesday, Chinese Vice-President Wang Qishan stressed that Beijing and Washington should keep their focus on cooperation, manage and control their differences to not only bring the bilateral relationship back on track, but also contribute to the world economic recovery and peace.
“China will keep its arms wide open, provide more market investment and growth opportunities to the world,” Wang told the Bloomberg New Economy Forum in Singapore on Wednesday.
A day earlier, following the 3½-hour meeting between Xi and his “old friend” Biden, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang had already stated that China wanted to work with all countries to keep industry and supply chains stable and enhance coordination of macro economic policies.
We may focus on commerce, trade and economy in our discussion, but we all need a peaceful environment for this to happenLi Keqiang
“We may focus on commerce, trade and economy in our discussion, but we all need a peaceful environment for this to happen,” he told over 300 business leaders from over 40 countries as part of a “special dialogue” on Tuesday organised by the World Economic Forum.
The meeting between Xi and Biden was aimed at defusing tensions between the world’s two largest economies, while also calling for more pragmatic cooperation in the fields of trade and economy.
But there has been widespread concern among foreign business communities in China that they might face tougher challenges and a more closed economic system stemming from the country’s push for self-reliance under the so-called duel circulation strategy, a focus on national security and rising nationalism.
The concerns were aggravated by Beijing’s regulatory crackdown on large swatches of the economy earlier this year, from private tutoring to internet giants and property developers, which then prompted Chinese regulators to offer assurances to foreign investors.
Xi Jinping and Joe Biden call for mutual respect and peaceful China-US coexistence
“Opening up to the outside world is a basic national policy and hallmark of China, China’s determination to expand its high-level opening up will not change, so does its determination to share development opportunities with the world,” Xi told his White House counterpart on Tuesday.
Xi also urged Biden to return US policy on China to a rational track and called for the two sides to “solve specific problems” in bilateral trade and economic ties.
“China and the US, respectively the world‘s biggest developing country and the biggest developed country, whether they can handle the relationship well bears on the future of the world,” Wang added on Wednesday.
He said that the two countries “should act on the important common understandings reached between the two presidents” and reiterated that Beijing will not waver in its resolve to deepen reform and opening up.
China cannot develop in isolation of the world and nor can the world develop without ChinaWang Qishan
“China cannot develop in isolation of the world and nor can the world develop without China,” he added.
“Openness brings progress, whereas isolation leads to backwardness. We need to promote trade and investment liberalisation and facilitation, bring down trade and knowledge barriers, stay away from discriminatory and exclusive rules and systems, and keep the functioning of supply chains stable and smooth.”
Premier Li also said on Tuesday that China would stick to free trade and multilateralism.
“Above all, we must remain committed to peace and development. Free trade and multilateralism have proven to be effective in safeguarding global peace,” he said.
US Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo, though, confirmed on Wednesday also at the Bloomberg New Economy Forum that the United States would not be joining the CPTPP trade pact for now and would be trying to increase trade and deepen relationships outside the Asia-Pacific trade deal.
Originally known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership, it was spearheaded by the US under the Obama administration until former US president Donald Trump pulled out of the pact in his first days in office in 2017.***
Orange Wang covers the Chinese macroeconomy, and has many years of experience with China's monetary and fiscal policy moves. He also covered global market and financial news for a long time, with a particular focus on new technologies and their influences on economic growth and society. Before joining the South China Morning Post, Orange worked as a Shanghai Correspondent for ET Net, a Hong Kong financial news agency.
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