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Views on Xi-Biden meeting from Chinese experts
Xi has candid, in-depth exchange of views with Biden
On the evening of Friday, the two heads of China and the United States had a constructive interaction. Today's newsletter offers you a translation of interviews of several mainstream Chinese scholars with their comments on Friday's meeting and the development trend of Sino-U.S. relationship.
In addition, this newsletter also includes former editor in chief of Global Times Hu Xijin's views on the meeting on Weibo.
The translation, which was done by Ginger River during this weekend, hasn’t been reviewed by the media which conducted the interview or the interviewees, so it should only serve as a reference, not as an official translation of the original text. Ginger River also includes the links of the original text in this newsletter. The highlights are by Ginger River.
Before we deep dive into the scholars' opinions, let us take a look at Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi's remarks which he made Saturday when briefing journalists on the exchange of views between the heads of China and the U.S. on the Ukraine issue during Friday's video call. Ginger River believes it reflects China's official position on the meeting.
Question from CGTN: Some senior U.S. official said that the U.S. expects China to make decisions in the coming days or even weeks regarding the next step in the Russia-Ukraine situation. What is your response to that? Will China's future actions and position on the Russia-Ukraine situation change?
Wang Yi: President Xi has clearly and comprehensively clarified China's position on the Ukraine issue. The most important message the Chinese president has sent is that China has always been a force for maintaining world peace. We have always stood for maintaining peace and opposing war. This is not only embedded in China's history and culture, but also the foreign policy China has always committed to. China will continue to make an independent assessment based on the merits of each matter and in an objective and impartial manner. We will never accept any external coercion or pressure, and we will also oppose any groundless accusations or suspicions targeted against China.
Wang Yi: During the talks, President Xi also proposed a two-pronged Chinese solution to the Ukraine crisis. The pressing priority is for all parties to work together to promote dialogue and negotiations between Russia and Ukraine, cease hostilities as soon as possible, and avoid civilian casualties, in particular, preventing a worsening humanitarian crisis. An enduring solution would be to reject the Cold War mentality, refrain from bloc confrontation and build a balanced, effective and sustainable security architecture for the region to realize the lasting peace and security on the European continent.
Wang Yi: China's position is objective and fair and the same as the aspirations of most countries. Time will tell that the Chinese stance is on the right side of history.
Jia Qingguo, professor and former Dean of the School of International Studies of Peking University
Diao Daming, researcher at the National Academy of Development and Strategy of Renmin University of China
The following is part of the two experts' interview for 侠客岛 Xiakedao, a social media account run by the overseas edition of the People's Daily. The interview was posted on Weibo on Saturday.
Question 1: Before the video call, a U.S. official said that if China "continues to support Russia's invasion of Ukraine," the U.S. "will not hesitate to make China pay the price." The Chinese side, on the other hand, reiterated its position of "advocating peace and opposing war" in the call. How do you see the different positions of the two sides on the Russia-Ukraine conflict? What role can the two countries play together facing the current situation?
Diao Daming: The U.S. invitation to speak with China indicates that the U.S. side wants China to "cooperate" with the sanctions it has imposed on Russia over Ukraine. The "price" proposed by U.S. officials is clearly a form of coercion. China will not coerce any country, and will never accept coercion from any country.
Diao Daming: If the U.S. side's attitude is to de-escalate the current situation of the Russia-Ukraine conflict, urge peace and negotiation as soon as possible, and achieve peaceful dialogue, a synergy can be formed between China and the United States. China is also willing to work with members of the international community, including the U.S. side, to promote the realization of a peaceful solution to the Ukraine issue. However, if the U.S. side insists on adopting pressure and sanctions, it is obviously contrary to China's position of "advocating peace and opposing war," and it is difficult for both sides to work together.
Question 2: Since the escalation of the situation between Russia and Ukraine, the U.S. and Europe have removed some Russian banks from the SWIFT payment system, and some U.S. media have also talked about sanctioning China, and a number of Chinese stocks have been put on the "pre-delisting list" by the U.S. side. How do you think about the U.S. sanctions? What impact will this have on global trade, finance, energy, etc.?
Jia Qingguo: The U.S. side is not united internally on whether to impose sanctions. Those who uphold extreme oppositional thinking advocate tougher moves to deal with U.S.-China relations. Moderate pragmatists believe that such a move would bring more trouble than benefit and would harm U.S. economic and security interests and have an unpredictable impact on the world order.
Diao Daming: The U.S. financial sanctions have been escalated and increased, and there are now calls within the U.S. to raise them to "top gear" status, turning Russia into a "lonely island in economic globalization." Regarding the impact of escalating sanctions, President Xi Jinping mentioned in the call that "they could trigger serious crises in global economy and trade, finance, energy, food, and industrial and supply chains." Now that Europe is experiencing energy shortages and the U.S. itself is facing rising oil prices, engaging in pressure and sanctions will not only harm others and themselves but also be counterproductive to global economic recovery in the context of the epidemic.
Diao Daming: If the U.S. side ignores China's attitude and continues to go its own way, China will make careful arrangements to initiate complaints in the international mechanism and even take "reciprocal response." But such an outcome is not what China wants to see. In China's view, the word "peace" is particularly important between China and the United States.
Question 3: President Biden reiterated his “四不一无意”立场 "four 'no's and one 'no intention'" stance -- the U.S. does not seek to have a new Cold War with China, to change China's system, or to revitalize alliances against China, and that the U.S. does not support "Taiwan independence" or intend to seek a conflict with China. President Xi stressed that he "takes these remarks very seriously." Since last year's "cloud meeting" between the U.S. and China, some people on the U.S. side have not followed through on the important common understanding reached by the two Presidents and have not acted on President Biden's positive statements. How do you see the two-faced and contradictory nature of the U.S. policy toward China?
Jia Qingguo: In the "four 'no's and one 'no intention'" narrative, Biden said he does not support "Taiwan independence" and has made a positive statement on the Taiwan issue. But at the practical level of policy, the U.S. has continued to develop official and even military relations with Taiwan. This is influenced by the domestic politics of the United States, such as the dominance of hard-line voices in the U.S. Congress, the weakness of Biden's Democratic Party in terms of the number of seats in Congress, and the fact that many Taiwan-related bills are bundled with other bills on finance and defense, so if he wants to ensure the passage of those bills in Congress, Biden will have to accept the Taiwan provisions together. All these make the U.S. approach to Taiwan policy full of contradictions and cause great trouble to China.
Jia Qingguo: At the meeting between the heads of China and the United States last November, President Xi Jinping said, "History is a fair judge. What a statesman does, be it right or wrong, be it an accomplishment or a failure, will all be recorded by history. "
Jia Qingguo: There is no shortage of domestic resistance in the United States. But the ability to transcend personal political interests in U.S.-China relations, to reject ideological antagonism, and to allow rational and pragmatic people to play a greater role depends to a large extent on the vision, ability and determination of the U.S. leaders. In this regard, the U.S. leaders have the right to choose and influence.
Diao Daming: Only when the U.S. side truly implements the "four 'no's and one 'no intention'" and combines them with China's three principles of "mutual respect, peaceful coexistence and win-win cooperation" can a positive picture of the stable development of U.S.-China relations be formed.
Wu Xinbo, director of the Center for American Studies of Fudan University
The following is part of his interview for the Wechat account of Guancha.cn. It was posted on Saturday.
Question: The U.S. has been trying to "shift to the Indo-Pacific" for a long time, but now it's being held back by the Ukraine issue. What impact will the current situation have on the trilateral relations between China, the U.S. and Russia?
Wu Xinbo: I think it is inevitable that the Ukraine issue will definitely involve more U.S. efforts and resources in Europe in the future. To a certain extent, this will also restrain its investment of resources in the Indo-Pacific against China, which will weaken the advancement of its Indo-Pacific strategy against China.
Wu Xinbo: From the perspective of trilateral relations between China, the United States and Russia, I think the fundamentals of Sino-Russia relations will not change. We will not alienate Russia because of U.S. pressure or provocation, because Sino-Russian relations are based on the common strategic needs of our two sides, and we are very clear about this, and we will not be confused because of the U.S. pressure or a few good words.
Wu Xinbo: The U.S.-Russia relationship is now broken, completely "torn up," and I guess there is basically no room for improvement during Biden's term. If Trump comes back to power, maybe Trump will try to improve it, but it's also very difficult in terms of the domestic political environment. In other words, U.S.-Russia relations will continue to be tense and confrontational.
Wu Xinbo: On the U.S.-China relations side, I think President Xi has spoken very well to President Biden this time, and what Biden does next is critical. If he still has no substantive action to improve Sino-US relations, I am afraid we will not expect much from the Biden administration on the issue of Sino-US relations. The next time the U.S. side wants to talk to the Chinese side, the Chinese side may not be very interested. The words having been said to this point, if the people around President Biden still do not go to implement, or have no corresponding action, then there is no point in talking about it.
Wu Xinbo: So, the next step is to see whether Biden is sincere in improving Sino-U.S. relations. In the current situation, the Ukraine crisis actually gives Biden an opportunity to convince the conservative and anti-China forces in the U.S. that it is time to improve Sino-U.S. relations and not to continue to forcefully suppress China, which is not good for the U.S.
Wu Xinbo: In fact, President Biden now has such an opportunity. Next, we need to continue to observe whether he can seize the opportunity.
Hu Xijin, Former Editor in Chief of the Global Times, special commentator
The following is part of the comment by Hu published on his Weibo on Saturday.
After reading the readouts from China and the United States after the meeting, I further got the following strong impressions.
First, the current situation is complex and tricky, but China is the party with the most strategic initiative.
The U.S. is keen to influence China's attitude and released a tough message threatening China before this video summit, but did not dare to move it to the video call of the two heads. They prefer to use threats to "persuade China" because they know it is useless to make threats to China.
Secondly, China's general neutral position on the situation in Ukraine has been consolidated.
The U.S. and the West, despite their opinions, actually accepted China's balanced approach to its position.
While opposing China's substantial assistance to Russia, they could not do anything about the fact that China will maintain trade with Russia based on normal state relations and will not participate in Western sanctions.
The U.S. intention is to try to suppress the warming of trade between China and Russia as much as it can.
The U.S. and China may have some specific disputes and friction over this, but the U.S. side "will not hesitate to let the Chinese side bear the cost" is bluffing.
Third, the Russia-Ukraine conflict has brought strong shocks, but it has also opened up new geopolitical space.
More significant conditions have emerged in the direction of China strengthening comprehensive relations with Russia, and other directions, such as easing tensions with the U.S. and expanding relations with Europe, are not out of the question, and relevant potential conditions are also emerging.
The overall opportunities for China clearly outweigh the challenges.
The key lies in how we will manage the risks and seize the opportunities while maintaining strategic certainty.
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