President Joe Biden’s meeting with his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping presents an important opportunity to reset military ties between the two superpowers, analysts believe.
On the other hand, Republicans urged the president to confront the communist leader on serious problems such as the aggressive behavior of the People’s Republic of China in the South China Sea. Otherwise, the meeting will be nothing more than “zombie participation.”
The two leaders will meet next Wednesday for the first time in a year during the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit, or APEC, in San Francisco, California. On the agenda, according to White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre, is a discussion about “the continued importance of maintaining open lines of communication.”
Sourabh Gupta, a resident senior fellow at the Institute for China-America Studies, told the Washington Examiner that maintaining military communications between the two sides is likely to be “the main takeaway or deliverable” of the meeting. of Xi-Biden. .
Beijing cut military-to-military communications with Washington last year in protest of former Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-CA) trip to Taiwan, the importance of which included the possibility of an accidental escalation or accident. between US and PRC forces in the region.
Defense Department officials warned last month that there had been a dramatic increase in the number of unsafe or reckless maneuvers near US aircraft and naval vessels in the Pacific region recently. good years. There have been more such incidents, nearly 200, in the past two years than in the past decade, Ely Ratner, the assistant secretary of defense for Indo-Pacific security affairs, said at the time the information was released.
“I think there will be some takeaways from their meeting, but it will not be on a major or substantive level. There will be no major explosions or takeaways from what is happening in the South China Sea. Policies will change. What what happened on the Korean peninsula, it will not change. What is the role of China in Ukraine, Russia or Gaza, Israel? There is nothing fundamental to change.” Gupta added. “But there are opportunities to start gathering small low-level gains.”
He cited cooperation to curb the proliferation of fentanyl and artificial intelligence concerns as topics the leaders could agree on, and said he believed unsafe air and maritime encounters would be “relatively disappear.”
Republicans on the House Select Committee on Strategic Competition Between the United States and the Chinese Communist Party, which was formed earlier this year to address Beijing’s growing influence, listed 10 action items they want Biden to pursue. Xi during the meeting in a recent letter sent to the president.
“Despite repeated concessions from Washington over the past year, Beijing has been unable and continues to threaten core US interests,” Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-WI), chairman of the committee, told the Washington Examiner. “At this week’s meeting, the administration should walk away from the table if the CCP proves unwilling to address even the most basic issues in the relationship, such as the immediate release of all Americans wrongfully detained. of the PRC, stopping dangerous and unreasonable intercepts by American forces. , and stopping operations in Taiwan’s Air Defense Identification Zone east of the Median Line. Lacking clear commitments in this low-hanging fruit, APEC should be the end of the road for zombie engagement.
A senior administration official told reporters, “We hope the leaders will discuss (the) strategic direction of bilateral relations, the importance of maintaining open lines of communication, including the mill. issues, also, like Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and the Israel-Hamas conflict.”
A congressionally ordered report released in October found that China’s military “continues to rapidly modernize and diversify and expand its nuclear forces,” a senior defense official described at the time. The department estimates that China will have “more than 500 operational nuclear warheads by May of this year” and believes Beijing’s build will exceed 1,000 by 2030.
The administration official also said it is “possible” that the two leaders will discuss the spread of fentanyl, artificial intelligence, and some of the Americans the government believes are wrongfully imprisoned in China.
“In an authoritarian system like China, it’s important to talk directly to the man who has all the power – Xi Jinping,” Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX), the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, told the Washington Examiner. But this should not be considered by Biden as a ‘first step’ or talk for the sake of conversation. We sent several US government officials to Beijing with nothing to show for it. Biden should demand real deliverables, such as the release of Mark Swidan or the closure of companies that manufacture fentanyl precursors in China, before he rolls out the red carpet for Chairman Xi.
Swidan is one of several Americans detained in China, many of whom face extended sentences. He has been detained for more than 10 years on drug charges he denies, while the US government has granted him a wrongful-death designation, allowing certain government resources to be devoted to his case.