'Find the right way to coexist'


Lintao Zhang / AFP / Getty Images

So, the Chinese Foreign Ministry has officially announced that Chinese President Xi Jinping, at the invitation of U.S. President Joe Biden, will attend the meeting of the two leaders and the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in San Francisco from November 14 to 17. There was no word on which day this most anticipated meeting of the year will take place. In fact, Chinese diplomats kept silent until the last minute. At daily briefings, Chinese Foreign Ministry officials avoided pesky and tricky questions from journalists on the subject, although there were unofficial leaks from the U.S. side. The announcement came only on Nov. 10, four days before the visit. And there is nothing unusual in this. Such are the peculiarities of Chinese diplomacy: everything has its time.

Eventualy, the date of the meeting between Xi and Biden was announced by the White House — November 15. But the announcement also took place on November 10. This may indicate that this time the Americans are behaving more or less decently, officially not disclosing the details of diplomatic arrangements, treating the other side with respect. It can be said that this is the starting point for the Sino-American summit. Apparently, the Americans have respected some key demands of the Chinese side, without which this meeting needed by both sides could not take place. Probably, the key point here is Taiwan, on which the PRC obtained some assurances from the US.

GEOFOR in its previous materials predicted the possibility of a meeting in San Francisco, and now the predictions have become reality. It remains to be seen what will happen at the talks and what the results will be.

Russian media emphasize leaks from the American side. For example, Biden allegedly intends to have a «tough» discussion with Chinese President Xi Jinping on strategic issues, including the conflicts in Ukraine and the Middle East, as well as Russia. At the same time, they refer to the publication Politico, or else to their unnamed sources. They write that Biden is going to discuss the bad behavior of Iran, which has quite close relations with the PRC. All of this is from the category of rumors. Besides, Biden can talk tough all he wants, demonstrating his «anti-China» bravery for election purposes, playing up to the Republican voter. This has happened before, and more than once. Two reactions are possible: Xi will calmly listen or respond politely but just as harshly. The Chinese leader has long been resistant to U.S. pressure, whatever it may be. Besides, the PRC’s firm stance is that its relations with third countries are not within the competence of the US.

But seriously, we can assume that the main goal of the talks will be to normalize relations (in which both the US and China are interested), to bring them to some common denominator for the two sides, which will introduce new rules of the game and prevent confrontation. Both the PRC and the United States fear confrontation for various reasons.

It is unlikely that Ukraine or the Middle East will be at the center of the negotiations, although these issues will certainly be discussed in the aforementioned context. On both topics, Beijing has a certain advantage. The Americans are not doing well in Ukraine, and this is in China’s favor. In addition, the Chinese are doing very well: trade and economic relations with Russia have grown sharply since the start of the special military operation. In the Middle East, Beijing supports the Muslim world and the Arab world in general, with which it trades more than with the United States. Washington’s position, which unconditionally supports Israel, does not look very favorable.

But Taiwan and the Asia-Pacific region are much more important for China. Both sides want to avoid a military clash here. It is not by chance that the discussion of restoring military contacts is announced. And also bilateral trade and economic relations. Comrade Xi has many advantages here. First of all, the sanctions war against China has essentially failed. Restrictions on the supply of microelectronics to China have resulted in the rapid development of this industry in China and the substitution of American products in other markets. China is successfully reorienting itself toward U.S. competitors in other goods that it used to buy from the Americans. For example, it now imports soybeans mainly from Latin America.

Meanwhile, just before the visit, China’s main news agency, Xinhua, continued to create a positive background for the talks with several voluminous publications. They most likely contain a vision of Sino-US relations from official Beijing. «President Xi Jinping once said: «Over the past 50 years, one of the most important developments in international relations has been the restoration and development of Sino-US relations, which has benefited both countries and the world», the agency writes. — «The most important thing in international relations is that China and the US must find the right way to coexist. That appears to be the main focus of the talks, as well as before and after them. «The perception of Sino-US relations as competition does not take into account history and is inconsistent with facts. It is time to get out of the information cocoon created by pride and prejudice and abandon the obsession with fomenting competition between great powers. — writes Xinhua. — To that end, let’s start by going back to Bali and traveling to San Francisco. The establishment of world peace and the future fate of humanity depend on whether China and the United States, as two world powers, can find the right way to get along with each other. To the question of how China and the United States can get along properly, President Xi Jinping has already given a clear answer: it is mutual respect, peaceful coexistence and mutually beneficial cooperation». Isn’t that a win-win position on which the U.S. has nothing to object? But the world hegemon also cannot agree with it beyond words.

Finally, Xinhua directly hints at the source of the problems: «Keeping the peace is the right choice for China and the United States to make. The Chinese do not have the genes of expansion, coercion and hegemony. China chooses peace and adheres to peaceful development. At present, the biggest obstacle to achieving peaceful coexistence between China and the United States is the «Cold War» mentality.

It would be good to eradicate these genes. But how?

But we should not forget that China is dealing with the world’s strongest power — militarily, economically and politically. The conversation will not be easy. And it will not end at the San Francisco summit.