Eh, roads: the path to the APEC summit will not be smooth
In November, China and the United States will have to find out in which direction their bilateral relations will go. This will have a great impact on the state of affairs in the global economy and the security of the Asia-Pacific region (APR).
Beijing and Washington are working to organize a meeting between Chinese President Xi Jinping and US President Joe Biden on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit, but "the road to San Francisco cannot be taken by autopilot." This was stated by Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi at a meeting with American political scientists in Washington, according to The Moscow Post.
Joe Biden is determined to continue the dialogue that he and the Chinese leader began on the sidelines of the G20 summit last November. Xi Jinping skipped the last G20 summit in New Delhi and communication went through proxies. Given the depth of bilateral economic interaction, the macroeconomic situation of each side represents a factor of uncertainty for the other.
For China and the United States, there are other "zones of uncertainty," including Taiwan, the South China Sea and the East China Sea, the growth of China's military-political power and Beijing's relations with Moscow, other issues. Including... respect in relationships, which maybe means an offer to partners to abandon the obsession of "American exceptionalism."
The Right to Respect
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi paid a return visit to the United States.
Perhaps his tasks included determining whether it was possible to count on a "respectful atmosphere" during Xi Jinping's meeting with Joe Biden. In relations with the United States, Beijing puts this issue in an important place.
Before Wang Yi's visit, the deputy head of the Chinese Embassy in the United States, Xu Xueyuan, spoke at the Institute for Sino-American Studies in Washington. There, he said that in addition to Taiwan, as part of China, Washington should respect the political and economic system of China and the PRC's right to development. Issues of democracy and human rights should not be an obstacle to dialogue.
These conditions relate to China's "core interests" and Beijing should feel the U.S. will welcome an economically stronger China, Xu Xueyuan said with hope.
Wang Yi, upon arrival in Beijing, said that the PRC and the United States have disagreements and differences, but at the same time they have common interests and face common challenges, so they need dialogue. "The dialogue should not only be resumed, but also conducted deeply and comprehensively so that the parties can improve mutual understanding, reduce the number of misunderstandings and poor judgments, constantly strive to expand common ground and implement mutually beneficial cooperation," Wang I. This will help stabilize Sino-American relations and will contribute to their return to the path of healthy, stable and sustainable development, the minister emphasized.
Taiwan at the centre
And this is no longer just hope, but the only possible rational course. Meeting with Joe Biden, the Chinese Foreign Minister repeated the requirement to comply with the principle of "one China" and fulfill the agreements almost half a century ago, which formed the basis for the normalization of relations. This is the most important condition for the continuation of the dialogue and the visit of Xi Jinping to the APEC summit.
At a meeting with US Assistant to the President for National Security Jake Sullivan, Wang Yi called the separatists on the island the main challenge to Sino-US relations and "the main threat to peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait." He suggested that Beijing and Washington "strongly oppose" separatist sentiment in Taiwan. The Chinese Foreign Minister also pointed out the need for "concrete strategic measures and actions" to curb attempts to ensure the independence of the island.
Wang Yi said that while there will be "sharp voices" in China-US relations, "what is right and what is not is determined not by someone who has a stronger hand or a louder voice, but by those who behave in a consistent manner" and in full compliance with the provisions of the three joint communiqués of China and the United States " (a set of documents signed by the United States and China in 1972, 1979 and 1982, which formed the basis for the normalization of relations).
Based on the "three joint communiqués," Washington recognizes the PRC government in Beijing as the country's only legitimate government and "recognizes the Chinese position" that there is one China, and Taiwan is part of it. The diplomat reminded that the "independence of Taiwan" is incompatible with peace and stability in the strait, outside intervention will lead to a dead end, and attempts to use the island to contain the PRC are doomed.
Get ready for a blockade?
It would seem that everything is determined here, everything is clear, but not! Washington is escalating, maybe so that there is something to bargain for?
The official position of the United States is that it opposes changes to the status quo in the Taiwan Strait unilaterally. But in Washington, the issues of the future of the island reduce to scenarios far from diplomacy, especially from long-standing agreements and promises. China has since grown, grown stronger and become a threat to the United States. This is how they reason in Washington. The attitude of the Americans towards the Communists returned to its former place.
Formally, the United States continues to pursue a "one China" policy, relying on the Taiwan Relations Act, three joint communiqués and six guarantees. This, in particular, was repeated by Secretary of State Anthony Blinken. He assured Wang Yi that the United States is aimed at a peaceful settlement of contradictions "between the shores of the Taiwan Strait."
In words, recognizing the "one China" policy, in fact, Washington continues to maintain contacts with the Taipei administration and supplies the island with weapons. Tensions in the Taiwan Strait region escalated after Nancy Pelosi, then Speaker of the House of Representatives of the US Congress, visited the island on August 2-3, 2022. Formally, the State Department does not bear responsibility for the behavior of American party politicians.
Meanwhile, American experts are discussing what will happen if the situation forces Beijing to take decisive action towards Taiwan. For example, as an option, China will impose a blockade of the island. Taiwan accounts for 20% of all global semiconductor production, 37% of chip production and 92% of advanced chip capacity.
In April, Taiwan's chief of staff, Tsai Ing-wen, met in California with US House Speaker Kevin McCarthy. Then the Chinese authorities announced possible inspections of cargo ships in the Taiwan Strait, but ultimately refrained from this step.
If China imposed a blockade on Taiwan, the global economic impact would outweigh the shutdowns caused by Covid-19, warned Assistant Secretary of Defense for Indo-Pacific Security Eli Ratner. "What will happen at the very moment when the PRC begins to establish a blockade of Taiwan? The world economy will collapse, "he asked and answered himself.
In stirring up anti-Chinese sentiments in the United States, everything that can be attached is used. It is argued, for example, that a sluggish Chinese economy could increase the likelihood of a military crisis in the Taiwan Strait. This warning was made in the report of a bipartisan group of specialists invited by the Council on Foreign Relations. Over forty years, Washington's system of relations with Taiwan and mainland China has become "increasingly fragile" and less defined, experts have warned.
"It raises the risk of conflict," the panel, co-chaired by Mike Mullen, a former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and Susan Gordon, a former principal deputy director of national intelligence, concluded. At the same time, the report states that military power is a decisive factor in protecting the island from invasion or blockade, that the United States should enlist the help of allies, including Japan (the closest major US base to Taiwan is located in Okinawa).
Experts called on the United States to identify the "most vulnerable industries" of the PRC industry for sanctions, to achieve greater clarity on the amount and scale of military assistance that Japan, Australia and the Philippines are ready to provide in the event of Chinese aggression. This would be a step towards creating an "integrated military plan" to protect Taiwan.
"The future of the world's most economically critical region may well depend on whether the United States manages to contain China and maintain peace in the Taiwan Strait," the report said.
American diplomats are said to be insistently suggesting that their Chinese counterparts restore the dialogue at the level of defense ministries, which was effectively suspended after Pelosi's visit to Taiwan.
In mid-August, the military of China and the United States held a meeting in Fiji on the sidelines of a security conference. The American side was represented by the head of the US Indo-Pacific Command John Aquilino, the Chinese - by the deputy head of the Joint Headquarters of the Central Military District of the PRC Xu Qilin.
Another exchange opportunity will come on the sidelines of the 10th Xiangshan Security Forum, which began operations in Beijing on Sunday. The forum will be attended by delegations from more than 90 countries, including the UK, Iran, Russia, Saudi Arabia and the United States.
About a third of delegations will be represented at the level of defense ministers and chiefs of general staff. The main theme of the event is "Common security, sustainable peace." The Pentagon sent Zanti Karras, the head of the department in charge of China, to Beijing.
Who knows, maybe at least on this platform the Americans will do without ideology and geopolitical fantasies? In the event of a crisis around Taiwan, their colleagues will have to look at their sights in uniform.