Joe Biden told reporters that his objective in meeting with Xi will be to normalise communication channels between the two powers.
San Francisco: As US President Joe Biden prepares for a rare summit with Chinese President Xi Jinping, the ongoing wars in Ukraine and between Israel and Hamas set the stage for high-stakes discussions, CNN reported on Tuesday. The American and Chinese delegations plan to address both the Ukraine-Russia and Israel-Hamas wars in their extensive meetings in the San Francisco Bay Area, as stated by senior administration officials. During these discussions, President Biden and his national security advisers will work to persuade their Chinese counterparts that it is in Beijing’s interest to utilise its influence with Russia and Iran to contain both conflicts.
The heightened global unrest adds significance to Biden’s face-to-face meeting with Xi, their first in a year. As Biden grapples with two conflicts that could define his presidency–Ukraine and Israel – he is keen on enhancing ties with Beijing and averting additional crises during his term. The US has sought to manage expectations for the talks, highlighting the restoration of military communication and an agreement to curb narcotics trafficking as key objectives, as reported by CNN.
Biden told reporters Tuesday that his objective in meeting with Xi will be to normalise communication channels between the two powers. When asked how he defined success for Wednesday’s sit-down, Biden said, “To get back on a normal course.”
He said that the sit-down also included “corresponding, being able to pick up the phone and talk to one another if there’s a crisis, being able to make sure that our militaries still have contact with one another.” The US officials have been working to restore military communications with China after Beijing severed them last year, according to CNN.
Among prime concerns of the US is the risk for miscalculation or miscommunication that leads to conflict, including in the tense waters around Taiwan and the South China Sea.
“As I told you, we’re not trying to decouple from China,” Biden said, adding, “What we’re trying to do is change the relationship for the better.”
He also mentioned China’s relative economic weakness saying that he was looking to bolster a relationship that benefits both countries.
Even as he applies pressure on Xi, Biden’s own ability to shape the wars in the Middle East and Europe is being tested, as Israel continues its assault on Gaza’s civilian infrastructure and as Ukraine struggles to regain territory following Russia’s invasion 20 months ago. His staunch support and billions of dollars in military assistance from the United States haven’t necessarily led to outcomes US officials had hoped for, as reported by CNN.
“The president will underscore our desire for China to make clear in its burgeoning relationship … with Iran that it is essential that Iran not seek to escalate or spread violence in the Middle East,” a senior administration official said.
President Biden will make the point to President Xi that Iran acting in an escalatory, destabilizing way that undermines stability across the broader Middle East is not in the interests of China or any other responsible country, US national security adviser Jake Sullivan said Monday at the White House.
While applying pressure on Xi, Biden aims to shape China’s role in the Middle East, urging them to leverage their alliance with Iran for de-escalation. China’s growing influence in Iran, driven by shared antipathy toward the United States, presents an opportunity for diplomatic intervention.
The US president is expected to emphasise the necessity for China to play a constructive role in calming tensions in the Middle East. This includes a focus on Iran refraining from provocative actions, with a clear message that the United States is prepared to respond promptly to any such actions.
The summit’s outcome will determine the success of Biden’s efforts to enlist China’s support in managing global conflicts. The challenge lies not only in urging restraint in the Middle East but also in influencing China’s stance on Russia, especially concerning its economic alliance and role in the Ukraine conflict. The complex geopolitical dynamics will test the diplomatic skills of both leaders during this critical summit.
To that end, in Wednesday’s meetings, US officials intend to “underscore our continuing concerns around those provocations to China, who continues to be a substantial patron of North Korea,” CNN reported.