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Why does the resumption of military communication between the US and China matter?

The most important aspect of the meeting between Joe Biden and Xi Jinping is its simple implementation.

The American and Chinese presidents had not met in a year. A new meeting was scheduled for May, which did not materialize due to the visit of then Speaker of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi to Taiwan and the downing of the Chinese balloon in the skies of the USA.

These events in turn only symbolized the growing tensions between the world’s two largest economies.

Since the beginning of the year, the Chinese military has not answered American phone calls. This causes anxiety in the US and European security establishment.

An incident that can be overcome with conversation can lead to an armed confrontation in its absence.

In addition to Chinese resentment, the conversation was also truncated by the fall of China’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Ministers, Qin Gang and Li Shangfu, respectively, amid a scandal involving the leaking of classified information from the US Forces to the United States. Chinese rockets.

“I think it is essential that you and I understand each other clearly from leader to leader, without misunderstandings or miscommunications,” Biden told Xi at the start of the summit. He also used a recurring argument that competition between the US and China cannot degenerate into conflict.

Xi was in a similar vein: “For two great countries like China and the United States, turning their backs on each other is not an option. It is unrealistic for one side to reshape the other, and conflict and confrontation have unbearable consequences for both sides.”

The point is that, for both, avoiding conflict has different meanings.

The United States made a commitment to Taiwan when it recognized China in 1979, according to which the island’s union with the mainland must be negotiated, and not imposed militarily.

Xi has already made it clear that he does not rule out military action to annex Taiwan, and that he does not intend for his successor to inherit the problem. At this point, the only doubt is when Xi will have a successor, since in 2018 the Chinese Parliament, controlled by the Communist Party, removed the limit of two 5-year terms for the position from the Constitution.

China supports Russia in the war against Ukraine and Iran, which sponsors Hamas. The US, in turn, supports Ukraine and Israel.

Likewise, the Americans have mutual defense agreements with Japan and South Korea, two major adversaries of China in East Asia, and support other Asia-Pacific countries that fear Chinese projection, such as Australia and the Philippines. The US also has strong cooperation with India, another adversary of China.

In a sign of possible detente, the Americans abstained but did not veto this Wednesday Malta’s proposed resolution at the Security Council, currently chaired by China, on the Israel-Hamas conflict.

Russia, an ally of Iran, and the United Kingdom, an ally of Israel, also abstained. The other 12 members of the Council, including Brazil, voted in favor.

It was the fifth attempt at a resolution since the Hamas atrocities on October 7, the month in which Brazil presided over the Council. The fact that the US allowed the approval of the resolution under China’s presidency also represents, in practice, an apparent gesture of goodwill.

Biden also aimed to try to dissuade China from carrying out its dumping policies, the state subsidy of Chinese products, especially electric vehicles, so that they enter the American market at low prices.

According to White House sources, the American president was going to suggest that he could start a new tariff war against Chinese products if these practices were not abandoned.

At that point, Xi wouldn’t have much to run to, because Donald Trump, Biden’s likely election opponent in a year’s time, launched a tariff war against China when he was president.

The Biden administration adopted sanctions against the supply of technology to manufacture sophisticated chips to China. Restricting this access has the clear purpose of slowing down China’s technological, including military, advancement.

Taiwan is the world’s largest chipmaker. This policy has an ambivalent effect, as it could serve as an incentive for the annexation of Taiwan.

During the conversation, which was very frank, according to an American government source heard by CNN, Xi classified this policy as “technological containment”. Biden responded that the US will not provide China with technology that could be used militarily against them.

Another of Biden’s concerns was asking China to curb the supply of inputs for the production of fentanyl, one of the drugs causing an epidemic of psychotropic abuse in the United States.

Biden and Xi have known each other for a long time, as both recalled in their statements.

They were vice presidents under Barack Obama and Hu Jintao, and in that capacity have met several times in the past. However, they see each other from opposing points of view.

China is an emerging nation in search of a place in the world that it believes has been reserved for it for millennia. The US feels its hegemony is threatened in a zero-sum game: what China wins, they will lose.

Source: CNN Brasil

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