GP Short Notes

GP Short Notes # 596, 21 November 2021

China: Virtual meeting between Biden and Xi calls for greater cooperation
Avishka Ashok

What happened?
On 16 November, Chinese President Xi Jinping and US President Joe Biden held a 3.5 hour-long virtual meeting to address the issues of dissension between the two countries.

On 16 November, Xinhua Net reported that President Xi had called for steady relations with the US and said: "China and the United States should respect each other, coexist in peace, pursue win-win cooperation, and manage domestic affairs well while shouldering international responsibilities."

On 15 November, the White House released President Biden's statements which warmly welcomed the meet and said: "it seems to me our responsibility as leaders of China and the United States is to ensure that the competition between our countries does not veer into conflict, whether intended or unintended. Just simple, straightforward competition." During the meeting, President Xi also questioned the ideology of democracy and explained that "democracy is not "mass produced" with a uniform model." The statement made by Xi reprimanded Biden for claiming a patent on democracy.

What is the background?
First, recent tensions between the US and China. The meeting between the two leaders took place in the backdrop of rising tension caused by Taiwan's independence movement. The US lawmakers visited Taiwan last month to discuss a military deal, a move that China strongly condemned. The relations between the US and China have remained bittersweet for decades. The US has maintained its status of being a universally powerful country ever since the end of the second world war. But the People's Republic of China has steadily reached its position of being the second most powerful and financially stable country. After shadowing the US for many long years, it now threatens to overthrow the US and take its place as the world's fastest and strongest GDP in the world. A report by McKinsey & Company revealed that China had overtaken the US as the wealthiest country with two-thirds of global net worth accumulated in China.

Second, emerging economic competition between the countries. Given the economic rivalry and considering the global economic recovery after the advent of the coronavirus pandemic, another cold war or even a trade war would be detrimental to the recuperation of the economies that get stuck between the two greatest GDPs of the world. Such a development would also be disastrous for the US and China as well. Thus, the meeting aimed to bring an understanding between the two countries and create a strategy to sustain the growth and development of their economy.

Third, the temperament of the leaders. President Biden will soon finish his one year in office. In the past ten months, he has not caused any untoward crises or conflicts with any other nations. The Biden administration strives not to take inconvenient and unfavorable action, even in the case of North Korea. Thus, it is evident that the US under the Biden presidency does not aim to complicate matters with China. Instead, it is complying with conditions that will enable the expansion of its economy along with China. President Xi Jinping also promised to cooperate with the US as long as it did not interfere in its internal affairs.

What does it mean?
The meeting between the two leaders is aimed at greater cooperation to facilitate the two countries' continuous and uninterrupted economic progress. The US and China realize that stalling each other might, in turn, damage their interests and thus are willing to compromise and work individually without bothering each other. However, the US may find itself in a tight spot if it cannot voice its opinions on the territorial aggression of China since it has many stakes in the Indo-Pacific region. The priority for both the leaders is to prevent the world from entering into yet another cold war era.