Don’t be surprised if Xi Jinping is a no-show at US Apec summit
- In light of the Russia-North Korea summit and China’s chip breakthrough, it’s unlikely that Beijing can be easily talked into another Biden-Xi meeting
- Moreover, given the dictates of the White House’s current foreign policy, what genuine concessions could Biden make to Xi?
Blinken’s address, titled “The Power and Purpose of American Diplomacy in a New Era”, struck me as idealistic dictates by an ideological prophet, rather than an exposition of American foreign policy by the Biden administration’s chief diplomat.
Blinken, in his speech, declared the end of the post-Cold-War period, which he said was being succeeded by “an intensifying competition with authoritarian powers, revisionist powers”.
He then reiterated that Russia and China were respectively “the most immediate, the most acute threat to the international order” and “the most significant long-term challenge”.
What raised eyebrows is that his speech was not only rich in self-righteous rhetoric on international affairs, but also extended his Manichaean dualistic view to a domestic context when he called for vigilance against the dangers posed “from the inside by elected leaders who exploit resentments and stoke fears; erode independent judiciaries and the media; enrich cronies; crack down on civil society and political opposition”. As I read this, former US president Donald Trump and his followers popped into my head.
Furthermore, Blinken set out a formula for what he called “diplomatic variable geometry”, which involves gathering allies round the United States and the rules-based order, and forming coalitions against “the Beijings and Moscows of the world”, so that “a growing global chorus of nations and people” will stand up to say that the US-dominated international system “is our system” and “serves our interests”.
It seems there is little ground for assuming Beijing will be easily talked into another top-level meeting during the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in San Francisco in November, as is being widely speculated. Considering that the US might be bogged down in Europe indefinitely, it is not likely to gain the upper hand over China in Asia any time soon.
Beijing therefore is likely to hold back as Washington eagerly seeks a bilateral summit in San Francisco in November.
All this sounds inconceivable, of course – suffice to refer back to Blinken’s sermon on foreign policy last week.
So, don’t be surprised if Xi skips the Apec summit in November, just as he snubbed the G20 this month. As it is, he has his work cut out for him.
Terry Su is president of Lulu Derivation Data Ltd, a Hong Kong-based online publishing house and think tank specialising in geopolitics