‘Should learn from history to create the future’

Petr Akopov

Joe Biden finally met with Xi Jinping – on the eve of the G20 summit in Bali, they spent more than three hours together at the negotiating table. It was the first face-to-face meeting since Biden was elected Pres-ident of the United States – and very important for Americans. It is no coincidence that Biden has been talking for years about how well he knows Xi, because he spent more time with him than with any foreign leader, beca-use in 2011 the then Vice President of China acco-mpanied the then US Vice President on a trip to China.
Since then, Biden has been reminded all the time that he and Xi have traveled thousands of miles, but the relationship between the two countries has changed very much over the past decade. And while Xi said during the meeting in Bali that the two countries “sho-uld learn from history to create the future,” the problem is that the US and Chi-na have different views on the past of their relationsh-ip, not to mention what they have different vision of the future.
Half a century ago, Washington needed Beijing first of all to build a new configuration at the global level. The closed-in China was afraid of the USSR, and Nixon decided to seize the moment to gain a geopolitical advantage: t-he States were preparing f-or detente with their main enemy, the USSR, and bef-ore that they wanted to im-prove relations with China, which had just emerged from the turmoil of the Cultural Revolution. The Kissinger Triangle envisaged that US relations with the USSR and China would be much better than betw-een Moscow and Beijing, which would allow tensions between the Russians and Chinese to be used to their advantage. This scheme more or less worked until the mid-80s. But since then, everything has changed.
The USSR committed suicide, and China became the number one rival for the United States. The unipolar world that the Americans began to build after 1991 did not materialize, and already after the global crisis of 2008, the United States offered China the “big two” model. Not a bipolar world, but a joint promotion of Atlantic globalization, but taking into account the interests of Beijing, with its consent to the role of a junior partner. It was this idea that the Obama-Biden administration promoted at the turn of the 2000s and 100s, and it was discussed by the then Vice President of the Uni-ted States and the Deputy Chairman of the People’s Republic of China during t-heir trips to the Middle K-ingdom and the States. The problem is that China then rejected this plan to “divide the world”: both because it did not want to be a junior partner in someone else’s plan, and because it did not trust the Americans.
Moscow and Beijing have been drawing closer since the second half of the 1990s, but it was in the last ten years that relations between the two countries reached the level of “more than allied.” And relations between the United States and China have been deteriorating all this time – especially after 2017, when Donald Trump launched a trade war with Beijing. Biden’s coming to power did not stop the confrontation that was gaining strength – moreover, the first meeting of representatives of the new administration with Chinese officials in Alaska took place in an unprecedented spirit of conflict. And already this year, Washington’s swaying of the Taiwan theme has completely increased the fears of a military conflict – against the backdrop of our operation in Ukraine, the West began to talk more and more about a possible Beijing operation to seize Taiwan.
The Chinese leadership assesses the statements about the “Chinese threat to Taiwan” as a deliberate provocation on the part of the Americans, that is, they understand the essence of what is happening quite correctly. And the latest US sanctions against China (in the ultra-sensitive sphere of semiconductors) only confirmed the opinion of Bei-jing: Washington is moving from a policy of passive containment of China to a policy of active opposition to it, and with the involvement of not only the countries of the Indo-Pacific region, but also Europe.
And now Biden is telling Xi that this is not containment, but competition – they say, we “will compete vigorously”, but we want not to turn this into a conflict, but “to manage this struggle responsibly.” The Americans (both Biden and his staff) made similar statements before the meeting, but Beijing responded by saying that the US should stop putting pressure on China, stop trying to interact with China from a position of strength, and stop constantly thinking about how to suppress China. and restrain its development.
Xi refrained from making such statements at the start of talks open to the press on Monday because he, too, wanted a frank conversation. The deterioration of US-China relations will happen anyway, but if there is a chance to slow down the process, then why not take advantage of it? After all, this is not China, but the States are heating up the atmosphere. Beijing is in no hurry, neither in the issue of Taiwan, nor in the global game. Time works for him: in any case, the States will lose their positions, and China will strengthen. Therefore, Washington is raising the stakes, but at the same time, the Americans will still not be able to force China to make concessions or provoke it into a military operation against Taiwan. China will take its own when the optimal conditions for this are ripe – it will take it without military action, especially from the United States.
At the same time, the United States sometimes already believes in its own propaganda, that is, they begin to really fear the Ukrainian version of the development of events around Taiwan – and categorically do not want to find themselves in a situation of a war on two fronts, a conflict simultaneously with Russia and China. Therefore, now the Americans are ready to verbally confirm their agreement not to cross the Chinese red line, that is, not to promote the Taiwan issue.
Does Xi Biden believe? And yes and no, he is ready to believe Biden personally, realizing that such an experienced player will not push Taiwan to declare independence. But Xi, of course, does not believe in the American elite, which is dominated by interventionists, and in these conditions, of course, he will not bet on “Old Man Joe.”
Which, moreover, on the eve of the meeting, tried to play very rudely, saying that he was going to discuss relations between China and Russia with Xi. And in general, he does not believe that China has great respect for Russia, does not consider relations with it as an alliance:
“For that matter, they are trying to distance themselves somewhat from Russia.”
That is, Biden decided to play the “Kissinger Triangle” – now, Beijing is slightly moving away from Moscow, which means that there is a chance, if not for rapprochement, then for understanding with Washington. After all, as he said after the meeting with Xi, the main thing is to “prevent misunderstanding” with China. But the problem is that the Americans misunderstand what the Chinese consider understanding: Beijing sees Washington gathering forces and building alliances against it. And it is impossible to convince Xi that he misjudges the Americans and does not understand their intentions.
Including because he has a clear example of how the United States uses Ukraine against Russia, and no one will convince the President of China that “Russia is different, it is to blame, and with China we just want fair competition”.
And we in Russia need to learn not to miss blows not only at the front, but also in information wars, including within the framework of the Kissinger Triangle. Otherwise, for almost a month now, we have been circulating the assertion that at the 20th Congress of the CPC, Xi Jinping announced a bipolar world – from which it is concluded that “China has shown Russia its place and is generally ready to negotiate with America at our expense.” But the problem is that Xi Jinping did not say anything of the kind, and this fake was launched by those who are trying to bring confusion into Russian-Chinese relations. That is, the Anglo-Saxons – still confident that they can design the future world order, “breeding” their opponents. And not noticing that the world has already changed. Russia and China do not just stand back to back – we have common goals and common enemies. And we did not make them our enemies – they themselves declared us enemies, intending to smash us one by one. But they miscalculated, although they still cannot admit it.