Joe Biden’s proposal to meet Xi Jinping fell on deaf ears

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Update on Sino-U.S. Relations

Joe Biden proposes to hold a face-to-face summit with the Chinese President Xi Jinping There was a 90-minute call last week, but the failure to reach an agreement with his counterparts led some US officials to conclude that Beijing will continue to take a tough stance on Washington.

The President of the United States proposed to Xi that leaders hold a summit to break the deadlock U.S.-China RelationsHowever, many people who listened to the phone briefing said that the Chinese leader did not accept his proposal, but insisted that Washington adopt a less tough tone towards Beijing.

The White House had Depicts the call -This was carried out at Biden’s request seven months after their first phone conversation-as an opportunity to test whether Xi Jinping was willing to make serious contacts after several diplomatic meetings between US and Chinese officials had made little progress.

Five people who listened to the briefing on the phone said that although Xi Jinping used Less abrasive More than what his senior diplomats did this year, his overall message to Biden is that the United States must temper its rhetoric.

Biden took a harsh stance against China, criticizing China’s treatment of Uighurs in Xinjiang, suppression of Hong Kong’s democratic movement, and military activities around Taiwan. In response, Beijing accused the Biden administration of interfering in China’s core strategic interests.

The sixth person familiar with the matter said Biden It was mentioned that the summit was one of several possibilities for follow-up contact with Xi Jinping, but the President of the United States did not expect to respond immediately.

A US official who was briefed on the conversation said that although Xi Jinping did not have the idea of ​​participating in the summit, the White House believed that this was partly due to Covid-19 concerns. Xi Jinping has never left China since he traveled to Myanmar before the outbreak of the epidemic in early 2020.

The United States had considered holding the G20 summit in Italy in October, but Chinese media hinted that Xi Jinping might not attend. He will not attend the Shanghai Cooperation Organization meeting in Tajikistan this week, when China, Russia, India, Pakistan and Central Asian countries will discuss the issue of Afghanistan.

Another person familiar with the Biden-Xi call said that it is conceivable that the Chinese president just does not want to make a promise at this specific point in time. Another person said that it is possible for both parties to agree to a video call before and after the G20-a step further than a phone call. But the three said that the United States was disappointed by Xi Jinping’s apparent lack of interest in the summit.

The White House declined to comment before this article was published, but US National Security Advisor Jack Sullivan later said that the Biden-Xi call was inaccurate.

“This is not an accurate description of the call. Period,” Sullivan said in a statement. “As we said, the presidents discussed the importance of being able to discuss privately between the two leaders, and we will respect this.”

China’s description of the call emphasized that it was initiated by Biden and cited Xi Jinping as saying that US policies have caused “serious difficulties.” They also pointed out that the United States “looks forward to more discussions and cooperation with China,” which implies that Washington is working harder than Beijing to promote engagement.

One day after the call, the Financial Times reported that Biden was considering Allow Taiwan to change its name The US office was changed from Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office to “Taiwan Representative Office”. This report drew an angry response from China, and China worried that such a name change would support Taiwan’s claim to be a sovereign state.

Bonnie Glaser, a China expert at the German Marshall Fund, said it is difficult to explain Xi Jinping’s reluctance to hold a face-to-face summit.

“Without uncertainty about what he can get from Biden, Xi Jinping’s contact with President Biden may be politically risky. He may calculate that it is safer to only engage in low-level interactions during this period,” Glaser said. . “But there are also Covid factors, we don’t know how much to pay attention to.”

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