US-China détente: Biden-Xi hard talks in Bali draw red line  

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By Manish Anand

New Delhi, November 14: The Kherson debacle of Russia set the backdrop for three-hour long hard talks between US President Joe Biden and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping. Both the leaders drew redlines over Taiwan, but opened the channel of communication to push the specter of the Cold War back.

In a first one on one contact in three years, Biden and Xi sought to break the frozen ice in their relations in Bali, Indonesia on the sidelines of the G20 Summit on Monday. Russia’s Kherson surrender has hit the Chinese expansionist ultra-nationalism hard, as the US-led NATO has demonstrated the prowess to meet the unilateral challenge of an authoritarian state to use the military to force war on smaller nations.

Xi fresh with stealing a third term for himself by purging his rivals in the Communist party of China and Biden following a morale booster US Midterm election outcomes stuck to their hardened lines over Taiwan. But Biden conveyed in no uncertain terms that any Chinese misadventure in the Taiwanese straits would bring the full might of the American fleet. The White House after the bilateral stated that Biden conveyed to Xi that China must not entertain any idea to alter the status quo in Taiwan and not endanger the global peace.

On the positive, the US Secretary of State Antony Blinken would travel to Beijing at a convenient date to resume the official contacts between the two countries. With Russia-China relations straining over Chinese muscle flexing, Beijing is finding itself in a tight spot, with the possibility of a global isolation looming. This is despite the fact that the industrialist lobbies in the US and Europe are exerting pressure on their governments to bring normalcy in their ties with China. The German industry leaders are particularly desperate for expeditious return to the normalcy in ties, as fear of slowdown and a certain recession loom over Germany in the face of deepening energy crisis.

Xi has been building on rhetoric to silence his critics in China after the ‘Zero Covid Policy’ has created havoc in the country, leaving the people faced with acute food crisis, while an ageing population has sent the economy into deep dive. The 30-year formula of the economy wherein the benefits of a rising population sends the country on a high growth path followed by the economic collapse is a reality now in China.

The US in contrast being a knowledge-based and military hardware export driven economy remains insulated with the challenges of the global slowdown. In this context, Xi is likely to have indicated to Biden in the bilateral that China would not cross the red line if the US could stick to the symbolic ‘One China Policy’.

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