his week observed a much-awaited development in the US-China relations as Xi and Biden met this week on the sidelines of APEC summit in San Francisco. Though the leaders did not engage in a jovial handshaking, Biden again called Xi a communist dictator soon after the talk, but few contagious issues were discussed in this bilateral talk. On the other hand, United Nations condemned Israeli Defence Forces for entering in to the compounds of the only operational hospital in Gaza. Israel did not pay any attention to this denunciation and has clearly stated it will continue with its military operations against Hamas.
Conflict Escalates: Israel, Hamas Clash Continues Unabated
It is more than a month Hamas attacked Israel and the war started between Israel and Hamas. With many lives gone and many on stake, both Israel and Hamas are not ready to end this deadly war. The world also looks divided over this pertinent question of authority overthe territory under dispute between Israel and Palestine. This week, after storming in to Gaza, the Israeli Defense Forces declared that they have found weapons inside Al-Shifa hospital. They also claimed that Hamas militants were hiding inside it. Hamas condemned Israeli Defense Forces for entering into this only operational hospital in Gaza. The United Nations also criticised this action ofIsrael. However, Israel maintained its standof not stopping its military operations against Hamas. The international institutions need to work on the possibility of a dialogue so that the war could be stopped.
Xi-Biden Meet: Hopes for Progress Amid Global Challenges
The dialogue between the US President Biden and Chinese President Xi this week resulted in few important developments. After skipping significant opportunities to meet and hold a bilateral talk with Biden, Xi finally met him on the sidelines of APEC summit in San Francisco. The timing of this meeting holds a vital importance. Xi is facing an array of challenges at his home front. China is presently facing a major economic setback along with other political issues. Chinese ministers are vanishing in thin air, its youths are crying over the issue of unemployment, MNCs are shutting down their operations in China and foreign investments are decreasing every day. Apart from these domestic issues, Xi also has to manage the regional and global strategic challenges that he only introduced. On the other hand, Biden is looking forward to the upcoming presidential elections in the US. Though miraculous results were not expected from this talk, the world remained hopeful of some positive outcomes as Xi visited the US first time in last six years. It is also a known fact that both the nations cannot become friends or partners overnight. Both look at each other with suspicion, and security dilemma exists between the two. China is an offensive realist nation while the US is a defensive realist one, but both believe in maximizing their power to attain hegemony in the global politics. However, considering present global geostrategic situation where two potential warfronts are already open and the third one may open in IndoPacific, this meeting provided a platform to both the leaders to at least try to normalise their bilateral communications, if not the relations. From international trade to IndoPacific to fentanyl trafficking to Israel-Hamas war, there was a lot to discuss.
This meeting concluded with few significant developments. First and foremost, both Biden and Xi agreed to recommence high-level military communications between the two nations that were severed after Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan in 2022. Later, both the US and China kept coming out with the offensive statements for each other that further worsened the relations. Both avoided each other at multilateral platforms as well. Throughout this year, China continuously kept Taiwan engaged in different tussles, and Taiwan kept taking help from the US and other Western bloc nations to defend itself. The US also announced to sell ammunition of worth USD 440 million to Taiwan. This announcement not only invited sharp reaction from China, it also severed the communications with the US. Relations further stumbled when the US accused China of sending a spy balloon across its airspace. After Blinken’s visit to China, both the nations had expressed their optimism towards normalizing their bilateral relations. Xi also skipped the G-20 summit hosted by India in New Delhi. Therefore, Xi’s US visit was considered crucial from not only the future of China-US relations’ point of view but also from the global affairs’ angle as well.
Attaining power is not that difficult as managing it is. At present, both, the US and China seem to be standing at the crossroads of managing their power while keeping their national interests and future of their bilateral relations in focus. While the US is tyring to maintain its dominance in the global affairs, China wishes to attain the same status by displacing the US. Hence, this tussle would continue for years until both realise the importance of walking together.
The author is Professor, School of International Studies, JNU