Taiwan in focus at Biden-Xi summit, as tariffs and supply chain issues take a back seat

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  • Tariffs and the supply chain crisis, two issues that dominate US-China economic ties, will take a backseat to more pressing security concerns on Monday when President Joe Biden holds a virtual summit with Chinese President Xi Jinping.
  • Instead, rising tensions between mainland China and Taiwan are likely to be a priority for the United States.

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WASHINGTON – Two issues dominating US-China economic ties, tariffs and supply chain woes will take a backseat to more pressing security concerns on Monday when President Joe Biden holds a virtual summit with Chinese President Xi Jinping.

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“I don’t expect tariffs to be something that will be on last night’s agenda,” a senior Biden administration official told reporters during a background briefing over the much-anticipated video call on Sunday.

Asked whether Biden and Xi would discuss the current global supply chain crisis, the official said it was “not something that I expect will be an important point of discussion.”

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However, he noted that there will be “many economic issues and other questions” that Biden and Xi “will touch upon during the talks.”

Still, persuading the United States to lift tariffs imposed by former President Donald Trump on nearly $370 billion worth of Chinese-made goods remains a major policy priority for Beijing.

It is also a target adopted by the US business community, which has pressured the Biden administration for nearly a year to lift tariffs.

Given how high-profile the US-China trade and tariff wars have been, news that they will not be high on Monday’s agenda was unexpected.

Business leaders are also likely to be surprised that Biden and Xi do not plan to devote a significant amount to the unprecedented global supply chain disruption, which has its roots in the COVID-19 pandemic but continues to worsen. .

So far, the White House has declined to provide any concrete details about Monday’s agenda.

The senior aide said the meeting was likely to last “several hours”, and that Biden and Xi would speak via interpreters, but declined to say who would attend with the president, or how the “summit” was structured. Will go

However, one thing is clear: rising tensions between mainland China and Taiwan will be a priority for the United States.

China has been increasing military exercises near Taiwan in recent months, a display of force that did not go unnoticed by the Biden administration.

“Our policy [towards Taiwan] It has been and continues to be, and I hope the President will ratify that.”

“I’m not going to make any more predictions about what the president is going to say tomorrow night, but I certainly expect it to be a topic of conversation tomorrow night,” he said.

White House aides have said one goal of the summit is to ensure that what it calls “intense competition” with China does not lead to conflict.

“We want to make our intention and our priorities clear to avoid misunderstandings,” the official said. “The President will also make it clear that we want to build a railing of common sense to avoid miscalculations or misunderstandings. That’s how you maintain responsible competition.”

Biden also intends to discuss China’s human rights record in the meeting.

Beijing has drawn international condemnation for this. “Comprehensive Program of Repression” against members of his Uighur Muslim minority ethnic group. This includes bonded labor, the mass imprisonment of more than a million people in “re-education” camps, and the alleged sterilization of Uighur women, as reported. News media And this US State Department, Beijing denies that it has violated the human rights of Uighurs.

In March, the United States and its allies imposed sanctions on several officials in Xinjiang province, the traditional homeland of the Uyghur people. Secretary of State Tony Blinken has called the treatment of Uighurs in China “genocide”. However, Biden has stopped using the term.

Despite these tensions, Washington and Beijing have recently sought to highlight their cooperation on issues where the interests of the two countries meet.

This was seen at the COP24 climate conference in Glasgow, Scotland. There, Chinese and American envoys Announced a surprise joint agreement Setting new goals to reduce the consumption of fossil fuels.

The United States and China are responsible for more than 35% of greenhouse gas emissions worldwide, although China produces more than twice as much as the US.

Climate change is one of the few issues where both Washington and Beijing could benefit from cooperation. A White House official said Biden will discuss possible areas of cooperation between Washington and Beijing at Monday’s meeting. But these issues are the exception; More often than not, the two countries are on opposite sides.

Under Xi’s leadership, China’s one-party Communist government has attempted to dethrone the United States as the world’s number one economic and political power. It has exerted its economic influence around the world, funding infrastructure projects in developing countries and forming purely transactional alliances with countries.

Back home, the Communist Party has violently suppressed dissidents in Hong Kong, and the gradually restricted freedoms enjoyed by citizens of the former British protectorate for a century.

For the White House, these developments are seen as part of a longer-term plan that in some ways presents a greater threat to the United States than any one of the strategic issues alone.

In both word and deed, China is striving to provide the world with an attractive alternative to liberal, rules-based democracy. Beijing’s message is that democracy has failed to deliver to its people.

Biden has responded to this imminent threat by working to unite US allies in the Pacific at the G-7 summit and NATO.

“We are in a competition – not with China – but with autocratic, autocratic governments around the world, whether democracies can compete with them in a rapidly changing 21st century,” Biden said. said At the NATO summit earlier this year.


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