Sunday, November 20, 2022

The high stakes meeting between US President Joe Biden and Xi Jiping this week at the G20 summit ought to come as a relief to the geopolitical trends where since Soviet Union collapse in 1989, Americans took to extreme hegemonism and bullying.

The encounter perhaps marks the beginning of an uneasy climb-down for US in spite saber-rattling by warmongers among US officials, academics and media who must be disappointed with Biden’s assessment that he doesn’t believe China will invade Taiwan, and reiterated the “One China” policy. “I do not think there is any imminent attempt on the part of China to invade Taiwan," Biden is reported to have said.

“Our policy on Taiwan has not changed at all. It's the same exact position that we have had," acknowledging that Taiwan is part of China which US agreed to in 1971 when Taiwan representatives were expelled from the UN. US and allies frame China’s rise as part of a global clash between democracy, and evil autocracy, yet want China to prevail over North Korea and Russia often described as rogue. 

For decades there has been friction tension over ideology, politics, trade, technology and industrial espionage, and geopolitics on Taiwan, Hong Kong, the South China Sea, QUAD and Asean where China is accused of alleged breaches including human rights abuses and fostering other authoritarian regimes. Recently, there has also been war over Covid19 origin, Climate Change, and Russia-Ukrainian conflict where US as usual plays double standards.

As China’s all round power grows so is US unease because it knows it can no longer bully China and its allies in the region unchallenged, after all there’s little they lose in not being subservient. Americans, represented by Biden, now seem to accept that there’s no need for a new Cold War and nuclear war. This, coming from the US, the only country to have ever dropped an atomic bomb on another, is a big shift considering its record of atrocious wars since its independence in 1776. 

At any given time, the US has had more soldiers serving wars outside its borders than many countries combined with its Marines often kicking doors open in countries that don’t tow its unilateral lines as its recent about-turn on Venezuela shows. Had the US actually used mutually beneficial diplomacy and multilateralism, probably the Russian-Ukrainian conflict and its ripples would have been avoided. But because the US and allies control the global propaganda machinery, everyone, except themselves are at fault. Looking back to recent events in Iraq, Syria, Somalia and Afghanistan, it’s clear that the US today operates in a more treacherous diplomatic environment where even its heavy armament cannot guarantee victory.

China's arrival on the global market and growing steady influence since 1990 coincided with US’s diminishing standing around the world due to its meddling and negative fallouts. And since 1978 when Deng Xiaoping proclaimed “Reform and Opening up” and the mantra "hide your strength, bid your time," China has been on a charm offensive. 

As the second largest economy, and a technology and military powerhouse of 1.4 billion now affluent people, China has become so powerful and few can dare confront it openly. Many pundits believe that since the US failed to contain China then, it’s unlikely it will succeed today when China's strength is no longer hidden.

And as the world's largest trading country linking BRIC, Asean, Japan, South Korea, Australia, New Zealand, and Africa under the Road and Belt Initiative, China is begrudgingly being accepted by Western allies as the emerging dominant power. And although the US is still unwilling to make concessions, and many believe that it’s becoming too late for it to reshape alliances in China's backyard.

US officials who have been saber-rattling like Secretary of State Antony Blinken, now directed by Biden to travel to China, are finding painful to explain to the global audience that their aim with China today isn’t conflict but conciliation and strong competition for mutual benefit. Yet, all the while they continue to treat global issues as a zero sum game in which when the US rises, others must fail, fall and disintegrate unless they become its poodles. 

As Biden was meeting Xi, back in Washington, FBI Director Christopher Wray was giving the House Homeland Security Committee negative briefings that Tik Tok, a Chinese social media platform is a national security threat to the US allegedly because it has the capability to collect data. Wray and ilk are completely silent about Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. And remember that in 2020, Donald Trump threatened to ban Tik Tok in the US if its parent company, ByteDance didn’t sell it off to an American company. Huawei is blacklisted.

Many hope that the meeting between Biden and Xi, and the impending follow-up engagements that Biden has directed his officials to start, opens a new door for building sustained consultative approach because the world has come to a crossroad where even the UN system is less functional mainly on account of US unmitigated arrogance.