Biden and Xi Chart a New Course in U.S.-China Relations

To highlight its originality, we need to go back to November 2022 for the last individual conference in between the leaders of the 2 most effective nations at the minute, the United States and China. At that time, Biden and Xi satisfied each other on the sidelines of the G20 conference in Bali, Indonesia. This conference in Bali was preceded by a substantial duration of increased stress in between the United States and China following Nancy Pelosi’s check out to Taiwan. Pelosi’s journey was concerned by China as a justification and a departure from the one China policy. As such, Pelosi’s go to led to completion of direct interaction in between the armed force of both nations. A possibly harmful circumstance considering that it might cause events turning into something much even worse. This and other obstacles that presently specify US-Sino relations plainly highlight a requirement to produce a flooring under US-Sino relations. However, before we take a look at today’s conference accomplishments, let’s very first briefly return to the last main conference in between Xi Jinping and Joe Biden in Bali and the subjects that were gone over at that time.

Bali 2022

Initially, it will not pertain to anybody’s surprise that Taiwan was among the more tough concerns that was gone over in between both nations throughout the G20 top in Bali. Xi Jinping called Taiwan the “very first red line” that need to not be crossed in U.S.-China relations. Biden on his turn, relatively attempted to soothe things down, mentioning that the one China policy – which supports both Beijing’s one China position in addition to Taiwan’s military – was the same. This is a policy that has actually typically been referred to as tactical uncertainty, which highlights the combined signal that this policy sends. However there was certainly a lot more to go over. North-Korea, the Russian intrusion of Ukraine, financial investment and trade policies and expert system (AI) were likewise gone over among lots of other subjects. Considering that lots of (if not all) of these concerns stay unsolved, they were high up on the list of subjects that both nations required to go over.

San Francisco 2023

So, quick forward to 15 November, a set up conference in between Biden and Xi happened in San Francisco. Listed below we supply an introduction of the most essential subjects that were gone over and those that are type in specifying the US-Sino relationship. We make a difference in between United States’s interests, China’s interests and shared interests. Nevertheless it should be stated that some interests likewise overlap. The difference for that reason is not constantly clear. Security, for example, is of shared interest, however within the world of security both China and the United States likewise have their own particular interests. We will conclude this report with our take on the outcomes of the bilateral conference in between both world leaders and see to what degree development has actually been made on these concerns and more usually the bilateral relationship in between the United States and China.

United States’s primary interests

Trade and financial investments

Beginning with the Trump age, the United States has actually looked for to develop a more fair trading and financial investment relationship with China. For long the United States has actually been having a substantial trade deficit with both China in addition to the remainder of the world. In 2022 the overall United States trade deficit reached a record high with a reported trade deficit of nearly $950 billion. According to the United States department of Commerce the trade deficit with China reached a level of $382.9 billion in 2022.

Furthermore, sell 2022 in between the United States and China grew for a 3rd year in a row. It is for that reason tough to declare that the trade relationship in between the United States and China has actually ended up being more well balanced, regardless of tariffs and other procedures that have actually been carried out considering that 2018 to attain such. Nevertheless, simply ahead of the conference in between Biden and Xi today, China did purchase a quantity worth more than $3 billion of soybeans, which must be considered as an indication of great will and a desire by China to relocate to a more fair trade relationship. Nevertheless, in the previous China has actually currently made pledges concerning trade and opening its economy that still require to be satisfied. For example by continuing to fund specific tactical sectors in order to damage Western rivals as appears to be the case in the sector for electrical automobiles.

Additionally, the United States federal government pension fund now leaves out financial investments in Hong Kong in addition to financial investments in mainland China. In addition, the United States has actually suppressed financial investments streams to China in some sectors that it determines as tactical and other sectors considered important to United States nationwide security. This is yet another indication that the United States will continue to ‘de-risk’ its relationship with China and to consist of China’s financial and technological increase.


Another essential concern concerns fentanyl. The artificial opioid has actually triggered havoc in lots of United States cities and fentanyl dependency is an essential death cause for United States people in between the age of 35-45. Nevertheless, it is anticipated that China will be carrying on this concern to accommodate the United States in dealing with the existing fentanyl crisis. As such and currently before the conference happened, Biden and Xi were anticipated to reveal a contract which would see a crackdown type Beijing on this particular sector. Needless to state that it remains in the interest of the United States to reverse the existing increase in fentanyl addicts. Aside from a public health point of view this subject likewise touches social, legal, and labour force associated concerns.

Human rights

The United States has actually typically decried China’s position on human rights, most especially with regard to its practices in the Xinjiang province. The United States has actually approved business that produce items with the aid of Uyghurs. Furthermore, the United States will likewise go over so-called exit restrictions. These procedures prohibit non Chinese people from leaving the nation in case of suspicion of criminal offenses. Furthermore the United States will look for to resolve cases of put behind bars United States people of which the United States claims are wrongfully apprehended. Lastly it remains in the interest of the United States to forecast its soft power to the remainder of the world in order to end up being a more attractive tactical partner compared to its competitors.

China’s interests

Trade and financial investments

China continues to look for to turn the existing tide of decreasing exports and minimized circulations of foreign direct financial investments (FDI). Certainly as just recently as November 2023, China reported the very first contraction in (internet) FDI considering that information has actually been released in 1998 with a deficit of 11.8 bn throughout the 3rd quarter of this year. While the existing levels of trade in between the United States and China are still large, the procedure of de-risking (that includes reindustrialisation) will probably quicker instead of later lead to minimized United States imports from China.

Territorial concerns

China has actually continued to push the United States on preserving its one-China policy and firmly insists that the United States does not interfere with its internal affairs. In addition, China slams the United States for its liberty of navigation patrols in the South China sea. In addition, China decries the United States for attempting to consist of China within the area by establishing alliances with local gamers like the Philippines and Australia.


China’s “Made in 2025” state-led commercial policy go for technological self-reliance and the capability to take on high tech items on international markets. More particularly they go for a boost in locally included material of products from 40% to 70%. The United States has limited access to specific innovative innovations to China. This likewise consists of United States allies that have actually been pressed by the United States to limit Chinese access to specific innovations. So as long as China is unable to produce its own cutting edge innovation, it will stay based on what the United States wants to export. As such it is plainly in China’s interest to restore access to a few of the most innovative innovations.

Shared interests


As discussed above, Pelosi’s check out to Taiwan back in August 2022 led China to cutting direct interaction lines in between both armies. Furthermore, the previous minister of defence of China, basic Li Shangfu, was placed on the United States sanction list for being associated with the purchase of SU-35 fight airplane and Russian S-400 air defence systems. United States secretary of defence Loyd Austin attempted to re-establish interaction lines with the now missing out on Li Shangfu however was not successful. While Li Shangfu has actually been expelled from the state council, his name still can be discovered on the site of China’s ministry of defence and previously, no brand-new minister of defence has actually been selected yet.

Re-establishing direct interaction lines in between both armed forces stays an objective for the Biden administration and with General Li Shangfu being dismissed, brand-new possibilities develop to re-establish these lines of interaction with the clear goal to nip any opportunity of escalation in the bud. These (nearly) events have actually increased considering that China has actually ended up being more assertive in the area while the United States continues its liberty of navigation patrols in the South China sea.

However there is a lot more. The United States looks for to encourage Beijing at last that it must not provide military devices to Russia. Likewise the EU has actually sent this message to China signalling that it would have a strong unfavorable impact on relations in between the West and China. Needless to state that both trade and financial investments would be impacted when China would actively support Russia’s military.

Lastly, the United States will look for to push China to play a more vital function in handling the nuclear danger occurring from North-Korea. It is nevertheless doubtful to what degree China has genuine take advantage of over North Korea in order to convince it to alter its posture in the area. Furthermore it is likewise doubtful whether this would remain in the interest of China itself.

However Xi has actually likewise revealed himself plainly when he stated that China is not looking for to eliminate a cold or a hot war with anybody. While it is essential to understand that this declaration is at chances with China’s territorial claims (even when China’s claim on Taiwan is omitted) it must still be clear that China – like the United States – recognizes that a hot war in between both superpowers would have destructive effects and would break the interest of both. Xi Jinping has actually avoided to this by consistently stating that nuclear wars can never ever be won and for that reason must never ever be combated. However likewise here we see a contradiction, considering that China has actually started a course to broaden and improve its nuclear weapon abilities.

China likewise attended to the continuous stress in the South China Sea and declares that the liberty of navigation patrols that the United States and allies are carrying out are an infraction of Chinese sovereignty. It will likewise attend to United States weapon shipment towards Taiwan and will seek for a United States declaration which would plainly knock any efforts from Taiwan to separate itself from mainland China.


The most apparent shared interest both nations share is environment modification. Both nations significantly handle severe weather condition situations, environment warming and contamination. Before the conference there were currently favorable indications concerning this subject. This likewise provides wish for the next UN environment talks which will be kept in Dubai this month. The United States State Department and China’s Ministry of Ecology even made similar declarations concerning shared cooperation in restricting emissions of laughing gas and methane. Both countries will likewise support international efforts to triple renewable resource capability by 2030.


Current cautions from researchers and business that are associated with the advancement of expert system (AI) have actually put the concern high up on the list of security concerns. Furthermore, there appears to be commonalities to omit AI command and control ( NC2) systems for nuclear weapons. In addition China has actually likewise signified that it has an interest in signing up with speak about standards and guidelines for AI. Lastly, the South China early morning post reported that Biden and Xi were anticipated to promise for a restriction on AI in self-governing weapon systems like drones. This among others with the goal to avoid the danger of weapon systems ‘going their own method’ and all the prospective effects that might develop from this. Regrettably, when it comes to AI there will constantly stay a reward to produce a weapon that might tip the balance in a direct dispute with a foe.

What to anticipate after the Biden Xi conference?

While expectations before the conference where modest at best, the conference still has actually provided some outcomes. Initially, a flooring appears to have actually been developed concerning the US-Sino relationship. Both leaders revealed plainly that a dispute in between both superpowers must be prevented. Nevertheless, advancements within global relations are not fixed or direct. As such it is most likely that stress in between both powers will continue to be a crucial function explaining US-Sino relations. Second, both superpowers have actually dedicated to step up efforts to minimize international warming and battle environment modification. Third, China has actually vowed to suppress exports of precursors for fentanyl. In addition Biden revealed that professionals from both China and the United States will satisfy to go over and figure out: “what works and what’s not beneficial, however harmful and what’s appropriate” concerning AI. Xi and Biden likewise accepted resume direct interaction in between both armed forces in order to avoid events that might cause an escalation in between both nations. While it is definitely favorable that both the United States and China are engaging with each other through the greatest diplomatic levels, it is essential to understand that the existing circumstance of tactical competition/systemic competition that has actually identified US-Sino relations considering that Trump ended up being president in 2016, will not alter. As such the relationship has actually not materially enhanced. This may be highlighted best by Bidens remark at the end of journalism conference where he discussed that he still sees Xi Jinping as a totalitarian. For that reason we can just conclude that there is still a long method to precede we can speak about stabilizing relations in between China and the United States.

By Teeuwe Mevissen, Senior Macro Strategist at Rabobank through

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