Prior to the video of President Biden’s “summit” with Chinese President Xi Jinping on November 16, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki announced, “The President is participating in this meeting in a strong position.” Really? ! Evidence shows that this is not the case, even starting from the format-Biden’s team will call late at night in Washington time after finishing a full day of work, while Xi’s team will restart in the morning Beijing time. And Xi seemed to hold the strongest hand. He is about to be promoted to the political stratosphere of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), which is as famous as Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping, and will receive an unprecedented third five-year term in order to continue his goal of making China the world’s largest power.
His army is conducting a crash course to increase its nuclear arsenal, develop technologically advanced weapons, as demonstrated by the recently launched hypersonic missiles, and practice destroying US aircraft carriers by building replicas on its desert proving grounds. In recent months, his air force infiltrated Taiwan’s airspace with naked power and intimidation, and his navy continued to implement China’s exaggerated claims in the South China Sea and trampled on the sovereignty of other countries. In a few weeks, Xi Jinping will proudly show the “glory” of China to the world through the Winter Olympics, hoping that we will ignore all the dissent that he has wiped out Hong Kong, or that he will continue to “re-educate” Muslim Uyghurs in China.
Compare the position of President Biden. Whether it is inflation, “awakening” or Washington’s continued political failure, his approval rating among voters continues to decline (this is something Xi Jinping never has to worry about). The major foreign policy event during his presidency so far has been the catastrophic failure to escape Afghanistan. Not exactly a “position of strength!” Xi Jinping seems to even control Biden by calling him “my old friend”-even though they have met several times in the past nine years, Biden has repeatedly protested that he is not.
So, is a 3-1/2 hour video call important? Yes! Not necessarily in substance, because this communication is carefully choreographed like a Kabuki theater. There is no doubt that the “talking points” of the two leaders are drawn up in advance, and each is fully prepared for the issues raised by the other. According to reports, the two leaders are involved in potential cooperation on human rights, trade tensions, COVID-19, and climate policy. Both seem to be trying to downplay the possibility of the Taiwan issue — Xi Jinping promised to seek peaceful reunification, and Biden reiterated the United States’ “One China” policy. The most important result is that the leaders of the two most powerful countries in the world where bilateral relations have evolved from competition to hostility held a civil meeting to discuss controversial topics and promised subject-matter experts to follow up in the future.
But let us not forget that China’s time horizon is always several decades, not the election cycle. Chinese leaders believe that their despotism and state-controlled social, political, and economic models are superior to Western “chaotic” democratic capitalism and will eventually conquer the world. From a philosophical point of view, they hate our personal freedom, social unrest, and changing cultural practices. There is no doubt that Xi Jinping will participate in future meetings with his American counterparts to discuss cooperation and controllable confrontation to alleviate our worries, while actively pursuing a new world order with Chinese characteristics. Speaking of buying Chinese “goodwill”-Caveat Emptor!
Ambassador Tibor Najib recently served as Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs after serving as Deputy Provost for International Affairs at Texas Institute of Technology and a 30-year career as an American diplomat.
This article originally appeared in Lubbock Avalanche-Journal: Tibor Najib Biden and Xi Jinping are speaking from a “status of strength”