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Changing dynamics of US-China relations

19 November 2023 18:22 (UTC+04:00)
Changing dynamics of US-China relations

By Muhammad Asif Noor

The recent summit between President Xi Jinping of China and President Joe Biden of the United States, held in San Francisco, stands as a pivotal moment in the complex landscape of international relations. Against the backdrop of heightened global uncertainties and evolving power dynamics, the meeting aimed to recalibrate the trajectory of Sino-U.S. relations. The multifaceted discussions held during this meeting have implications not only for the two nations involved but also for the broader global landscape. The discussions between the leaders covered various crucial topics, ranging from the sensitive Taiwan issue to collaborative efforts on addressing climate change. As the world has closely observed the meeting, it becomes evident that the changing dynamics of US-China relations carry profound consequences for global stability, economic cooperation, and diplomatic engagements.

At the heart of the discussions was the palpable desire for stability. The leaders, cognizant of the complexities, sought to recalibrate their nations' relationship towards a track of managed competition. Both China and the U.S. face internal and external pressures, and a stable external environment is as crucial for China's economic trajectory as it is for the U.S. to foster employment and development. The commitment to trade cooperation hints at a willingness to build bridges for mutual benefit. Navigating the complexities of the Sino-U.S. relationship is no facile task. The recent U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission's 2023 report and biased media narratives underscore the entrenched challenges.

Economic matters took center stage at the summit as well, with a commitment to convene the first vice-ministerial level dialogue on trade and commerce in the first quarter of 2024. The emphasis on removing trade and investment barriers reflects a shared interest in fostering economic cooperation. Both sides expressed willingness to work together to implement the consensus reached during their leaders' meeting, signaling a potential shift toward more constructive economic engagement.

The strategic security consultations between China and Russia, immediately following the talks with the United States, are indicative of China's efforts to engage major countries in a constructive manner. In an era marked by global turmoil and economic recovery challenges post-pandemic, China appears committed to shaping relations with influential nations to stabilize the Asia-Pacific region.

The depth and intensity of the discussions, spanning multiple rounds and various international locations, reflect the gravity of the issues at hand. China's proactive approach to shaping major-country diplomacy, particularly in the context of the Asia-Pacific region, underscores its commitment to injecting positivity and certainty into the international arena. The emphasis on regular two-way dialogues with influential nations reflects a strategic effort to contribute to an improved international order.

One of the key issues addressed in the talks was the Taiwan question, which remains a crucial and sensitive matter in Sino-US relations. President Xi emphasized the principle that both sides of the Taiwan Strait belong to one China, highlighting China's stance on opposing any moves toward disrupting the status quo. Any U.S. action that infringes upon this red line risks not only strained diplomatic ties but also threatens to disrupt the fragile equilibrium of Sino-U.S. friendship.

President Xi outlined the "Five Pillars" for bilateral ties, providing a strategic roadmap. Right perception, effective management of disagreements, mutually beneficial cooperation, shared responsibilities as major countries, and promotion of people-to-people exchanges serve as the foundation. These pillars, if embraced and implemented, offer a holistic approach to building a sustainable and constructive relationship.
The outcomes of the talks with the United States include agreements on three specific consultations: Asia-Pacific region, maritime affairs, and foreign policy. Important step was agreeing on Fentanyl and the drug trafficking related matters. These areas of focus suggest a commitment to addressing regional and global challenges collaboratively. The discussions on the Ukraine crisis and the Korean Peninsula further emphasize the broader scope of China's diplomatic efforts.

The China-Russia strategic security consultations, a routine activity within an established framework, demonstrate the depth of the evolving comprehensive strategic cooperation between the two nations. China's ambassador to Russia highlighted the significance of this cooperation as a "mainstay" for maintaining international peace and security, indicating the far-reaching impact of China-Russia relations.

The renewed emphasis on people-to-people exchanges and reducing negative factors hindering such interactions aligns with China's acknowledgment of the foundational role of the people in bilateral relations. The reference to the role of people in shaping, writing, and creating the future of China-US relations underscores a commitment to inclusive and mutually beneficial engagement.

The Xi-Biden summit was more than a diplomatic formality; it was a strategic recalibration with far-reaching implications. The achievements – from climate cooperation to economic dialogues – offer a glimpse into the potential of Sino-U.S. relations. Yet, challenges persist, and the road ahead demands careful navigation. The international community, in this moment of geopolitical flux, looks to China and the U.S. not just as economic powerhouses but as architects of global stability. The Xi-Biden meeting, with its strategic depth and comprehensive agenda, exemplifies the power of diplomatic dialogue in shaping the future of nations and the world at large.

*The writer is the Founder of Friends of BRI Forum and Advisor to Pakistan Research Center, Hebei Normal University, China.

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