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Saturday, December 2, 2023

Agreement at US-China summit: Better than nothing

The summit between Presidents Biden and Xi at least brought some progress. However, the fundamental conflicts remain unresolved.

Xi Jinping and Joe Biden

Woodside, California, November 15, 2023: US President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping Photo: Doug Mills/ap

The key words military and drugs can roughly summarize the areas in which the summit meeting between US President Joe Biden and China’s party and state leader Xi Jinping in San Francisco the hoped for results brought.

Communication by means of direct wires between the armed forces, which at least in Asia are operating in mutual waiting positions, is to be resumed. Ways should also be found to restrict the production of the extremely deadly drug fentanyl through export restrictions on raw materials from China.

With these agreements, the already low expectations were at least fully met. This is better than nothing and at least a start. It remains to be seen whether there will actually be any breakthroughs, but for the first time the resolutions based on the old motto “Just call” or, with regard to Beijing, “Pick up the phone!” are almost overdue. In the best case scenario, they can serve as confidence-building measures and form the basis for further steps.

This Meeting between Biden and Xi stands for the mutual understanding of a minimum level of practice-oriented communication – despite the many major tensions in the most important bilateral relationship in the world. Of course, a single summit cannot solve the hegemony conflict between the strategic rivals, although more positive signals regarding the structural causes would be desirable.

Elections in Taiwan soon

But not just in the conflicts currently dominating world politics The USA and China are diametrically opposed. The Taiwan conflict even threatens a direct war between the two. The elections in Taiwan in January and in the USA next November could exacerbate the conflict.

Washington and Beijing were now neither willing nor able to implement major safeguards. They insist on their positions and will try to shape developments in their own way. This is worrying, but corresponds to the calculations that do not indicate any departure from previous positions. The current summit meeting also showed this clearly.

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