Biden-Xi Summit: Are U.S. and China Headed for Collision?



President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping met in a face-to-face discussion to address their nations’ differences and make several commitments. Xi promised to reduce the flow and production of fentanyl, a synthetic drug causing numerous overdose deaths in the U.S., and to restore high-level communications between China and the U.S. military. Experts and lawmakers, while cautiously optimistic about these agreements, remain skeptical about their long-term impact and suspect they might be superficial efforts to boost foreign confidence in China’s struggling economy.

President Biden and China’s Xi Jinping’s Summit: Key Takeaways

President Joe Biden’s discussion with China’s Xi Jinping promises progress in areas of conflict, such as the production of fentanyl and establishing open military communication. Biden trusts Xi will uphold his commitment to reduce the flow and production of fentanyl, a synthetic drug causing a surge of overdose deaths in the US.

Their agreement to keep channels of communication open is viewed as a significant step forward. National Security Council Coordinator for Strategic Communications John Kirby shared that Xi does not want to see Americans negatively affected by fentanyl and is committed to curbing exports.

Experts and lawmakers welcome Xi’s commitment to crack down on drug production and reestablish military communication with cautious optimism. They express concern that these might be temporary steps, taken as Xi seeks to bolster confidence in China’s economy.

US-China Relations: A Balancing Act

Former CIA analyst Colleen Cottle suggests that the summit does not signal a long-term improvement in US-China relations and might fuel Xi’s determination to achieve his country’s military and technological ambitions. Xi also hinted at sending more pandas to the U.S. during a dinner with American CEOs, a move seen as an attempt to attract foreign investment.

China’s track record raises doubts about its commitment to playing by the rules in the global economy, shares Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Ben Cardin. However, he believes there is a reasonable chance that Xi will uphold his pledges. The previous Trump administration’s deal on fentanyl with China failed to curb overdose deaths, causing skepticism about Biden’s fentanyl agreement.

Tensions and Diplomacy in the Pacific

China’s increased aggression towards Taiwan and U.S. allies in the region has raised concern. Biden has warned Xi about the consequences of a potential confrontation and interference in Taiwan’s election. Xi has made it clear that China will achieve reunification and has pushed Biden to stop providing military aid to Taiwan.

Despite these tensions, a military collision between the U.S. and China is not inevitable, according to former U.S. Ambassador to China Gary Locke. He stresses that the summit was essential for discussing disagreements openly.

Averting Potential Conflict

Biden has clarified to Xi that the U.S. does not support Taiwanese independence, but will not stop providing Taiwan with defense weapons. Biden approved $345 million in weapons for Taiwan and asked Congress for $2 billion for security assistance in the Indo-Pacific. The U.S. warns that China could have the military capability to invade Taiwan by 2027, a timeline that some believe could be accelerated depending on Taiwan’s upcoming election.

Any military action by China would be unacceptable, according to Cardin. A potential invasion would pose a problem for America, as Taiwan produces over 90% of the world’s advanced microchips.

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