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Big or Great?
Ambassador Tran Duc Mau 17:14, 2023/10/31
A new face-to-face talk between Joe Biden and Xi Jinping will of course be very important for the ties between the US and China which are already at the lowest level since the establishment of diplomatically official bilateral relationships between them.

The US and China are now approaching one new event which is certainly big but whether it would be and could be a great one in the relationships between the US and China is an other story. It is the possibility of a new encounter between US President Joe Biden and China's President Xi Jinping on the margins of this year's annual APEC Summit to be hosted by the US and be held in San Francisco in two weeks.

 China's President Xi Jinping (L) and US President Joe Biden. Photo: AFP

Until now, all signs from both sides are indicating that Joe Biden will meet Xi Jinping for the second time in his presidency. A new face-to-face talk between Joe Biden and Xi Jinping will of course be very important for the ties between the US and China which are already at the lowest level since the establishment of diplomatically official bilateral relationships between them. Recent diplomatic activities by both sides have had already created politically comfortable conditions and atmosphere for a new handshake between Joe Biden and Xi Jinping in San Francisco. The US needs the presence of Xi Jinping at the APEC Summit to make this gathering a success. APEC is so essential to China that it couldn't abandon attending the most important annual event of APEC. The big trouble is only if Xi Jinping goes to San Francisco and Joe Biden is in this town too and the two don't meet each other, it would be catastrophic for the relationships between China and the US. If both Biden and Xi Jinping really want to facilitate a turn-around in the US-China relationships, the coming APEC event in San Francisco would be a very proper and in time occasion for both sides. It would help both sides saving face and not being seen as the side coming to this face-to-face meeting because of weakness.

Therefore, if Xi Jinping attends the APEC Summit in San Francisco, there will be the second direct meeting between him and Joe Biden. And Xi Jinping will be there.

Despite all importance of this meeting, it is hard to become a great event in this bilateral relationship because of the fundamentality, difficulty and sensibility of all enduring disputes and conflicts between China and the US. One single and occassionally organized direct talk between the US's and China's leaders could in no way reach comprehensive solutions for all or most problems now existing between the US and China. Not much concrete could be expected from this event.

Right, it is still some progresses but only thoses with such fragility which can't ensure that progresses already made couldn't be revoked. But anyway, a Biden-Xi meeting in San Francisco in coming days will create chances and pave the way to reduce tensions, enhance mutual understanding, to melt the ice and lower the cold between these two powers. Something positive is still better than nothing at all.

Disclaimer: The views expressed by Ambassador Tran Duc Mau are his own and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of The Hanoi Times.


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