The four-day visit that the US Secretary of the Treasury, Janet Yellen, ended yesterday in Beijing did not change the words of the bilateral conflict at all, but the music did, which returned to the tones of minimal cordiality after months of excessively high notes for the spy balloon incident and the off-key statements on both sides. The two powers continue to fight in the commercial field, and of course in the military, but now they return to boxing under the rules of the Marquess of Queensberry. They talk live again.
Yellen’s talks with Prime Minister Li Qiang and the three top managers of the Chinese economy were “direct, substantive and productive”, as she described them to the press at the end of the diplomatic journey. There were ten hours of meetings that served – she added – “as a step forward in our effort to place the relationship with China on a more secure basis”.
China’s state news agency Xinhua noted that Yellen’s meeting with Vice Premier He Lifeng, the government’s top economic management overseer, culminated in an agreement to “strengthen communication and cooperation to address global challenges.” But the agency also highlighted Beijing’s objections to Washington’s emphasis on preserving US national security with trade restrictions. “The Chinese side expressed concern about the US sanctions and restrictions.” to the Asian country, Xinhua added.
In particular, the Chinese rulers showed Yellen their concern about the executive order that Joe Biden plans to sign to restrict US investments in the Asian giant, at least those that could somehow give it an advantage in strategic areas of technology, over everything in the military field. Yellen explained to his counterparts that any such measure would be limited in scope and would be enacted transparently, through a rule-making process that would allow for stakeholder participation.
The meetings served to exchange explanations about the economic obstacles that put each other
The visit ended without tangible agreements to repair the damaged relations between the two nations, weighed down by the permanent tension around Taiwan and the control of the South China Sea, as well as by the mutual obstacles to the investments and exports of the other -particularly in the exchanges related to the chips – and, lately, by a possible support from Beijing to Moscow, even indirectly, regarding the invasion of Ukraine.
After the marathon of meetings, not only on economic issues but on national security and climate change, Yellen reiterated the rejection of the Joe Biden Administration of what she considers unfair and coercive practices by China regarding trade and investment. But he concluded that today the two powers are in “a more stable position” despite their significant disagreements. “We believe that the world is big enough for our two countries to prosper,” she said.
Yellen added that both governments would seek more frequent communication at the highest levels: a statement that points to a perhaps not-too-distant meeting between Biden and President Xi Jinping, following their November meeting at the G-20 summit in Indonesia. . The atmosphere of relative relaxation created in that face-to-face was ruined by the appearance of a Chinese hot air balloon in the US sky, a device that Biden and his team determined from the beginning to be a “spy balloon.”
The detection and subsequent demolition of the artifact forced the suspension of the visit that the Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, planned to make to Beijing in February. The trip was postponed to June and it was a success. But the effect was short-lived: the next day Biden called Xi a “dictator” and the waters stirred again.
Biden warned Xi to be “careful” of the consequences of his renewed friendship with Putin
In an interview with CNN, the US president remarked that “there is a way to establish a working relationship with China that benefits them and us.” But he also recalled that after Xi’s friendly meeting with Vladimir Putin in March, he warned Xi to “be careful” of the consequences of her renewed ties with Moscow. “I told him: ‘This is not a threat but an observation, but since Russia entered the Ukraine, 600 US corporations have withdrawn from there. And you have told me that your economy depends on investment from Europe and the US. Be careful”.
With China, for now, one of lime and one of sand. The goal is not to break the rope. But both parties keep pulling.
Biden sees Israel and Saudi Arabia normalizing relations as “a long way off”
Joe Biden sees an agreement to normalize relations between Israel and Saudi Arabia that requires nuclear guarantees for Riyadh from the United States as “very far away”. The Saudi government wants Washington to clear the way for a defense treaty and a nuclear program that would have the purpose of securing its position in the area and overcoming its disadvantage with respect to Israel.
Saudi Arabia refuses to recognize Israel if it cannot acquire nuclear weapons. In general, and as all countries do, Riyadh speaks of a “civilian nuclear program”, although it has come to recognize its weapons aspirations. But Jerusalem has already made it clear that it does not want to even talk about a Saudi state with nuclear capabilities, whatever they are.
And now Biden has come to rule out any short-term pact under those premises. Asked yesterday on CNN by journalist Fareed Zakaria if the United States would provide Riyadh with the civil nuclear capability and defense treaty it requests, the president replied: “We are a long way from that. Whether or not we provide a means by which (Arabia) can have civilian nuclear power or we are a guarantor of their security… I think that’s a long way off.”
Biden was also critical of Israel after its latest attack on the West Bank. He said that Beniamín Netanyahu’s government is “part of the problem” in that occupied territory; especially “those individuals in the cabinet who say: ‘We can settle where we want and they (Palestinians) have no right to be here, etc.,” he said.
And to the question of whether he will invite the Israeli prime minister to the White House, the US leader avoided a direct answer and indicated that the president of Israel, Isaac Herzog, would visit Washington soon.
Netanyahu has yet to visit Biden, who in March criticized his plan for a reform of the judiciary that would weaken the independence of judges.