On November 14, 2022, Premier Xi and President Joe Biden attended a meeting–held in Bali, Indonesia–to discuss conflicting issues concerning both countries’ foreign policy. This interaction between China and the United States was an exceptional opportunity to mend the relationship between the two global powerhouses. Political scientists foresee China rising in financial and global influence over the next three decades, surpassing the United States as the hegemon and sponsor of pax americana around the world.
Global media outlets covering the engagement between the two countries reported President Biden is using this meeting to improve relations with China during his administration. He aspires to improve and turn around what is seen as the most confrontational US-Sino relationship since President Nixon.
The minor disputes between the two countries historically has focused on human rights violations with discrimination against ethnic and cultural minorities like the Ugyurs and Mongols, China’s actions against its own citizens, and China’s position on the Russian and Ukraine War. The political move initiates similar motives to maintain common interests when addressing international disputes.
The controversial relationship between Russia and China began in February of this year, when China signed an alliance with Russia. Many analysts have mentioned how China was blindsided by Russia’s invasion and have called for a neutral settlement since the beginning of war. The White House released a statement of Premier Xi and President Biden involving their discussion of the Russian-Ukraine war: “a nuclear war should never be fought and can never be won and underscored their opposition to the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons in Ukraine."
However, the most important topic between the two is the question of whether Taiwan continues as an independent sovereign territory or will be recast under China’s rule. The current United States foreign policy recognizes Taiwan as one of China’s territorial provinces; however, Taiwan continues to distinguish themselves as a democratic and independent state.
China’s rapid military buildup and militarization of previously disputed regional areas and international waters has raised fears of their intent to militarily “choke off” and isolate Taiwan from their global and trading partners. The United States, however, has increased their spending to provide “their newest military equipment” to improve the defensibility of the island nation. President Biden warned Premier Xi that the intense efforts towards Taiwan could potentially upset “regional stability and jeopardize the global economy.”
On October 7, 2022, the Biden administration imposed sanctions on China to restrict the People’s Republic of China’s (PRC’s) ability to both purchase and manufacture certain high-end chips used in military applications and build on prior policies, company-specific actions, and less public regulatory, legal, and enforcement actions taken by BIS. This stands out as one of the most important indicators of President Biden’s efforts to use diplomacy to resolve the Taiwan disagreement.
China’s agreement to their most recent engagement with the United States after the imposed sanctions may indicate a willingness to use diplomatic channels to resolve geo-political conflicts. In light of the global implications of the regional Russia-Ukraine conflict, these actions provide Premier Xi with the most important reasons to pursue diplomacy.
Although Beijing perceives all issues involving Taiwan as an “internal” matter, the White House celebrates this conference as a positive move for the future.
Why does this conversation affect the interests of the United States and China? The three power houses of the world–Russia, China, and the United States–all circulate around the personal relationships between Putin, Xi, and whoever holds the presidential seat of America. During the Trump administration, the media noticed the secure friendship between Vladimir Putin and President Donald Trump; however, the tight-knit relationship between Russia and America disappeared when Biden took office. There are many questions that revolve around whether or not the Ukraine-Russian war would occur if President Trump was still in office. For Biden to mend a friendship with Xi grants the public to feel at ease with the conflicts that are occuring in Eastern Europe and Asia; the New York Times believes that “because of their solid personal relationship, there is reassurance in hearing directly from the other leader.” The conversation between the two leaders was a very upfront and honest conversation, according to Biden. "Do I believe he's willing to compromise on certain issues? Yes," said, willingly, by the president, "We were very blunt with one another about places where we disagreed."
Although the step towards diplomacy was small, the mutual action between the United States and China lays the groundwork to begin restoring and bridging the ongoing divisions over the last sixty years. The trust that Biden has for the future of the relationship between the United States and China means that the China/Taiwan relationship will be one of his foregin policy goals. As the main decision maker for the international relations with other countries, Biden needs to assure them that the interests between China and the United States stays afloat to maintain the peace across the Pacific Ocean.