08.12.2023 Author: Abbas Hashemite

Implications of Xi-Biden Summit

Implications of Xi-Biden Summit

Amid rising tensions around the world, a meeting between Chinese President Xi Jinping and US President Joe Biden, in November 2023, attracted considerable attention from around the globe. The meeting between the two leaders occurred on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit in San Francisco. The two leaders are facing tough times at home. Therefore, this summit proved lucrative for both of them as it helped them save their face at home. President Xi is struggling in domestic politics due to the slow economic recovery after the Covid-19 pandemic. He achieved significant goals by earning ease in US policies in return for promises of cooperation and reducing tensions, which will permit China to have more focus on economic development. This would also increase the probability of wooing foreign investors in China.

On the other hand, President Joe Biden also needs to elevate his stature at home, as the year 2024 is the year of presidential elections in the United States. Biden sought to demonstrate that personal diplomatic dedication is delivering. According to Jake Sullivan, National Security Advisor of the United States, Joe Biden wanted to practically show that he saved the interests of the American public in the meeting with his Chinese counterpart. Furthermore, Biden also wanted to decrease the friction between the two countries because another military or diplomatic crisis would be the last thing that the United States would want whilst facing public backlash due to its support for the Israeli genocide in Gaza and dealing with the Russia-Ukraine conflict. However, this summit is considered nothing more than merely restructuring the declining relationship between the two countries.

Numerous bilateral issues were discussed in the meeting between Joe Biden and Xi Jinping. Both sides signed multiple agreements which proved lucrative for both the leaders. From the US perspective, President Xi’s commitment to combat the trade of the ingredients of the lethal narcotic fentanyl, alongside resuming military-to-military cooperation, combating climate change, and addressing artificial intelligence-related concerns, was one of the major achievements.

However, despite multiple agreements, the Taiwan issue, the most divisive issue between the two sides, remained untouched. The United States and China have been at odds over the issue of governance in Taiwan. China considers Taiwan as its part and denounces any attempt at independent foreign relations by the island nation. On the other hand, the United States accepts Taiwan as part of China’s mainland. However, it, paradoxically, supports the stance of the people of Taiwan to decide their matters and policies independently. The two sides have decided to resume military-to-military engagement which China put to hiatus over the Nancy Pelosi’s, House Speaker of the United States, visit to Taiwan last year.

The business community from both sides, especially from the United States, had a profound interest in this meeting. They expected improvement in economic relations between China and the United States. Over the past few years, the economic relations between the two have seen a sharp decline, which impacted their economy. Former US President Trump put some sanctions on Chinese companies and products. This move was reciprocated by China at a small level. However, the Biden administration left Trump’s embargoes on Chinese companies intact, which undermined his credibility. President Xi demanded Biden to enhance economic cooperation by modifying and easing trade policies curbing bans on sensitive equipment. As per reports, the United States has removed a Chinese institute from its trade sanction list. This demonstrates that the Biden administration is ready to ease tensions and enhance economic cooperation with China. This move also signifies the importance of Sino-US cooperation at this period. President Biden has also labeled the relations between the two countries as the most important bilateral relations of the century.

Among many other matters, Xi and Biden have also discussed climate change cooperation and AI regulation. However, despite all these agreements and discussions, there are a lot of suspicions that these pledges and negotiations would ever materialize as both presidents need these achievements only to improve their stature at the domestic level to regain their popularity. Furthermore, the Sino-US disagreements about the two persistent global issues, the Russia-Ukraine conflict and the Israel-Hamas War have not been resolved in this meeting. China is a staunch supporter of Russia and Hamas. Whilst, the United States supports Israel and Ukraine. China has distanced itself from Israel’s genocide in Gaza and has advocated an unconditional ceasefire. On the other hand, the United States is funding Israel’s war crimes in Gaza. In addition, the Taiwan issue continues to be a root cause of the rift between the two sides.

China’s increasing ties with Russia and its campaign for a multilateral world are also threatening the US hegemony. The expansion of BRICS and the proposal of de-dollarization from this forum has further infuriated the United States. On the other hand, the Biden Administration’s policy of militarizing the Indo-Pacific, and restricting the access of the Chinese army to the USA’s modern military technology also remains unmodified. This demonstrates that prospects of improvement in bilateral relations between China and the United States are bleak. However, both sides will keep managing lower relations with each other to focus on their economic growth and avoid indulging in any new diplomatic or military tensions. This would prove lucrative for both leaders to elevate their political stature at home.


Abbas Hashemite – is a political observer and research analyst for regional and global geopolitical issues. He is currently working as an independent researcher and journalist, exclusively for “New Eastern Outlook”.

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