This year’s Biden-Xi summit has better foundation but South China Sea and Taiwan risks won’t go away

by Michael Nguyen
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U.S.-China Summit

The upcoming Biden-Xi summit, scheduled during the annual Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in San Francisco, carries a more promising foundation compared to their previous meeting in Bali, Indonesia, in November 2022. The past year has seen substantial progress in government-to-government talks, with recent weeks witnessing an expansion into cultural and business exchanges. Notably, this summit arises from a backdrop of improved relations, unlike the Bali meeting, which took place amid tensions sparked by a visit to Taiwan by then-U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

Jude Blanchette, a China expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, noted that this meeting benefits from a stronger foundation, both in substance and context. However, it is crucial to acknowledge that persistent issues, such as Taiwan and tensions in the South China Sea, loom as potential obstacles to improved bilateral ties. Unexpected incidents, like the incident involving a Chinese surveillance balloon earlier this year, can quickly derail progress.

While dialogue between the U.S. and China has intensified, fundamental disagreements in areas such as technology, defense, trade, and Taiwan persist. The Biden administration recently expanded restrictions on technology exports to China, reflecting the ongoing challenges. It is essential to recognize that increased communication does not negate the concurrent expansion of military preparations and high-tech deterrence measures by both nations.

Rather than anticipating major breakthroughs, the hope for this summit lies in setting the tone for meaningful dialogue on a range of issues in the coming months. However, numerous potential stumbling blocks exist along the way, making the path to improved U.S.-China relations a complex and challenging one.

The timeline of events over the past year highlights the ups and downs in U.S.-China relations, from diplomatic exchanges to military activities and economic negotiations. These developments underscore the intricacies of the relationship between the two superpowers and the need for cautious optimism in their interactions.

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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about U.S.-China Summit

What is the Biden-Xi summit?

The Biden-Xi summit refers to a high-level diplomatic meeting between the President of the United States, Joe Biden, and the President of China, Xi Jinping. This summit aims to address various issues in U.S.-China relations.

Why is this summit significant?

This summit is significant because it takes place against the backdrop of improved relations between the U.S. and China following months of government-to-government talks. It provides an opportunity for both leaders to discuss and potentially resolve critical issues that affect not only the two nations but also the broader international community.

What are the main challenges in U.S.-China relations?

U.S.-China relations face several challenges, including disagreements over technology, defense, trade, and the sensitive issue of Taiwan. Tensions in the South China Sea have also been a source of concern, potentially impacting bilateral ties.

What is the hope for this summit?

The hope for this summit is to set the tone for meaningful dialogue on various issues in the coming months. However, it is not expected to yield major breakthroughs, as there are numerous obstacles and speed bumps in the path to improved relations.

How has communication between the U.S. and China evolved over the past year?

Over the past year, communication between the U.S. and China has intensified, with multiple diplomatic exchanges and negotiations taking place. Despite this, both countries have continued to expand their military preparations and high-tech deterrence measures, reflecting the complexity of their relationship.

What is the role of the Biden administration in U.S.-China relations?

The Biden administration has been actively involved in shaping U.S.-China relations, including expanding restrictions on technology exports to China and engaging in diplomatic efforts to address key issues. Their approach seeks to balance competition and cooperation with China.

Are there any potential flashpoints in U.S.-China relations mentioned in the text?

Yes, the text mentions potential flashpoints, including tensions over Taiwan and incidents in the South China Sea. These issues serve as sobering reminders that unexpected incidents could disrupt efforts to improve ties between the two countries.

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