Finally, the presidents of the United States and China met to calm the excitement in bilateral relations. On the sidelines of the APEC summit in San Francisco. By the way, he was there almost 40 years ago when Xi Jinping came to America with a group of officials to learn agricultural experiences. In fact, this was his first trip abroad.
From the outside, everything went well; There was moderate pleasant conversation in public. Four hours of meaningful negotiations followed. Thereupon, Biden could not hold himself back and said that he still saw Xi Jinping as a dictator, but they needed to communicate.
From the outside, it may seem that the leaders of the two great powers have come together to discuss the “sharing of the world” and the new rules of the game. However, it is not so. China is not yet worthy of the role of a full-fledged second global powerhouse. And America hardly needs him in such a role.
It appears that the results of the agreements reached are quite limited. As they say in such cases, “we agreed to continue negotiations.” What did you manage to agree on?
China will crack down on companies that export chemicals used to make fentanyl, the dangerous synthetic opioid fueling America’s drug epidemic. It is 50 times more potent than heroin and 100 times more potent than morphine, and its use ends tragically for tens of thousands of people each year in the United States. At the beginning of his presidency, Biden declared the situation with fentanyl an emergency – by a special executive order in 2021, 70,601 people died in the United States from overdoses of this drug, a 25% annual increase. The overdose death rate from synthetic opioids in 2020 was 18 times higher than in 2013. There is a flow of precursor chemicals from China to Mexico, where drug cartels produce opioids, which then reach the United States. Moreover, such substances themselves are absolutely legal and are used, among other things, in pharmaceuticals. However, the use of fentanyl in the production of counterfeit drugs can be fatal. And now President Xi has given Biden a small campaign gift by agreeing to tighten restrictions.
They also agreed to restart military relations, which were disrupted at the beginning of the year due to the Chinese “spy investigation” scandal inflated by the Americans (as a result, it turned out that the investigation was not so much a spy investigation at all). Regarding Taiwan, everything was limited to the exchange of ideas. The sides appear to have remained the same. Although the USA officially accepts the “one China” policy, it actually advocates preserving the current status quo forever.
In his meeting with Biden, Xi Jinping expressed his desire, judging by available information, to sooner or later move towards a final solution to this problem, namely the “peaceful reunification” of China with the rebellious province. He also demanded that the American president stop supplying arms to Taiwan. The PRC will not fight for Taiwan yet; It will wait until it falls into Taiwan’s hands. Beijing can afford to wait a long time.
Middle East issues were discussed, especially the conflict between Israel and Hamas: Biden asked the Chinese leader to influence Iran to prevent further escalation of tensions.
It is clear that it is not possible to reach an agreement on what China calls “technological containment”, that is, restrictions on the US supply of the latest chip manufacturing technologies to China, as well as what is possible. It is used in weapons production. Xi Jinping expressed concern but did not receive any concessions in return.
Nothing was said to the public about whether the “Ukraine issue” and China’s cooperation with Russia were discussed at the meeting. Of course yes, but if they agreed on anything there, we will find out after these agreements are implemented.
Depending on the results of the summit, it is possible for both sides to make some special concessions regarding the wave. The pressure on American companies in China may ease somewhat (apparently Boeing shares have risen in anticipation; the company is expecting new orders). America, on the other hand, may slow down the process of imposing new sanctions on Chinese technology companies. But in general, the conflict in the technological sphere will continue despite the agreement that it should not turn into an interstate conflict. As well as military-political rivalry in the Pacific region. China’s accelerated strategic nuclear arsenal, which started in recent years, will also continue. The PRC does not want to participate in negotiations between Russia and the United States on nuclear weapons control without achieving parity with them. However, these negotiations have not yet taken place.
It is important that China maintains normal relations with America, it is not ready to break. This is especially important in an environment where there is a noticeable slowdown in the Chinese economy, whose growth rates are increasingly approaching that of the United States. Despite the Chinese party leadership’s mandate to achieve 5% GDP growth this year, it will most likely be no more than 2-3%. America’s estimated GDP growth is 2%. The Chinese economy lags the American economy by about $10 trillion, accounting for about 60% of that figure. Foreign investment in China has also been falling recently, largely for political reasons stemming from tensions in relations with the West. Given the obvious problems that arise, China has no chance of catching up, let alone surpassing, America in the near future. China’s aging population and shrinking workforce are also becoming an increasingly powerful factor. The consequences of the “one family, one child” policy initiated by Mao Zedong, which China abandoned just a few years ago, are being felt, but it is too late.
Most importantly, although China is capable of mounting stubborn resistance, it is not yet ready to fully confront America. At the same time, it was unable to formulate a “civilizational alternative” to the collective West led by the United States that would produce meanings, ideas, and even technologies that would be attractive to other countries.
According to the last part, China is strong in not only copying what has already been discovered and invented, but even developing it more or less independently. It is also difficult to imagine that anyone today would try to copy or imitate the Chinese way of life, its cultural model. Unlike American mass culture. But without all this, China will never be able to become a superpower, including taking responsibility for solving some world problems that do not directly concern it. China is too closed in on itself and is ready to solve only those problems that directly concern it. The expansion of its influence in developing countries is mainly due to large amounts of loans (and the increasing debt of countries to China), but this is not exactly the path that the USSR followed in its time when trying to impose its own model of civilizational development. . “Soft power” projects in China are in their infancy compared to those in America.
Therefore, instead of offering its own alternative to the America-centered model of reorganizing the world, China will continue to adapt to America by resisting, responding to, and playing defense against some of its “attacks and attacks”. This indicates that the tension between Washington and Beijing will continue for a long time. In part, the Americans provoked them by exaggerating the danger of “China’s global rise” and its transformation into “the main threat to America.” However, this may be because they no longer see any threat of equal strength from others in the long term.
The author expresses his personal opinion, which may not coincide with the position of the editors.
Dolores Johnson is a voice of reason at “Social Bites”. As an opinion writer, she provides her readers with insightful commentary on the most pressing issues of the day. With her well-informed perspectives and clear writing style, Dolores helps readers navigate the complex world of news and politics, providing a balanced and thoughtful view on the most important topics of the moment.