onsdag 17. november 2021

Biden-Xi meeting yielded no major breakthroughs. But Beijing has already claimed victory

The very fact US President Joe Biden and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping are now talking is itself a significant breakthrough. US-China relations, which came to a near total breakdown during the final year of President Donald Trump's term, had descended into open hostility during more recent high-level bilateral meetings -- including March's now infamous Alaska Summit, during which diplomats from both sides traded barbs. And though Monday's virtual summit between the two leaders saw no substantive policy on key issues such as climate, trade, the pandemic, or arms control, it did establish a dialogue that can be built on, potentially easing tensions — and allowing for a return to a more constructive, stable relationship.

Already there are signs this is bearing fruit, with reports emerging late Tuesday that China and the US have agreed to relax visa restrictions on each other's journalists. But while the mood music coming from both countries is undoubtedly positive, a closer examination suggests Beijing felt it had more to cheer.