Biden-Xi meeting left big question unanswered, analyst says

The flags of the United States and China stand behind a microphone at the United States Embassy in Beijing on April 9, 2009.

Frédéric J. Brown | AFP | Getty Images

The United States and China have just emerged from a high-profile meeting between their two leaders, with both sides adopting a positive tone about the future of their relationship – but one big question remains unanswered, an analyst said.

“The open question for the larger relationship is whether the United States and China can constructively deal with the slow-motion collision currently unfolding between their very different worldviews,” said Stephen Olson, senior researcher at the Hinrich Foundation, in a note Tuesday after the virtual conference. Mountain peak.

The United States and China still face “hard and irreconcilable differences” that run deep – and it remains to be seen whether the fallout between them will subside after US President Joe Biden meets Chinese President Xi Jinping, Olson said.

“No country is going to disappear. No country will accept the other’s point of view. The prudent way forward would be to find plausible ways that each side’s divergent narratives coexist,” he said.

Uncompromising and irreconcilable differences are ingrained in the other’s vision on either side. These cannot be wished away.

Stephen olson

principal investigator, Hinrich Foundation

Olson explained that China views the United States as a waning power at a time when Beijing seems more confident on the world stage. The United States sees the circumstances surrounding China’s rise as contrary to its own interests, and it must be prepared to “face and challenge with more force” China, he added.

“Uncompromising and irreconcilable differences are ingrained in the vision of the other on either side. They cannot be removed,” Olson said.

Biden also appeared to recognize the challenge. He said there was a “need for common sense safeguards to ensure that competition does not escalate into conflict and to keep lines of communication open,” according to the White House reading after his meeting. with Xi.

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Meanwhile, Xi told the meeting that in order for China and the United States to come to an agreement “in a new era,” they should respect principles of mutual respect, peaceful coexistence and win-win cooperation, according to China’s official English reading.

Beijing generally uses language like “mutual respect” to demand more favorable terms from the United States

‘Things can only get better’

The virtual meeting between Biden and Xi was the closest communication between the two leaders since Biden took office in January.

Relations between the United States and China have been difficult in recent years, with the two sides clashing over issues ranging from trade and technology policies to human rights and the origin of the Covid pandemic -19.

The Biden-Xi meeting yielded few concrete results, but it was still an important step in stabilizing relations between the two countries, observers said.

“It’s good that the two leaders have met. From there, things can only get better,” Gary Locke, former US Secretary of Commerce and US Ambassador to China, told Squawk Box Asia on Wednesday. “from CNBC.

“The two countries need each other, and the world needs the two countries to cooperate and work together to solve so many problems,” said Locke, now interim president of Bellevue College.

– CNBC’s Evelyn Cheng contributed to this report.

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