GOOD MORNING FROM LONDON
Last week President Biden requested a phone conversation with President Xi Jinping. It lasted 90 minutes. It is reported with increasing confidence that Biden proposed to Xi that the Two Leaders hold a summit in an effort to break the present impasse in US-China relations. Xi sidelined the proposal and, instead, stressed that Washington reduces its invective against China before a face-to-face summit can take place.
In recent weeks meetings have taken place in China between Foreign Minister Wan Li and Biden Cabinet members including Kerry, Sherman and others. But Biden was pressing for a face-to-face meeting with Xi. He didn’t get it.
It will happen but not until – following State Councillor Yang Jiechi’s straight-talking to Blinken at Anchorage in January 2021 – the US has ceased to talk down to China. This is not just an issue of pride or verbal spat but a recognition of a shift in world power.
World politics are never static. Change is permanent + stability is temporary. Things are always changing – sometimes quietly + sometimes dramatically. Consider the announcement in November 1970 that President Nixon was going to visit China. It was a shock. People were taken by surprise. But there was clear evidence in the preceding months that a fundamental change in the balance of world power was underway – particularly in the deteriorating relations between Washington and Moscow.
There is a significant change taking place today as China’s growing influence penetrates the political decision-making process across the capitals of the world. All governments are reviewing their priorities and changes in strategy are underway – some incrementally and some fundamentally. Today a significant adjustment is taking place in the relationship between Beijing and Washington. As in 1970, there needs to be an adjustment to new political realities.