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Biden-Xi Call Underway


The fifth call between US President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping is now underway.

  • The call comes amidst a growing security dilemma as China and the US fail to establish an adequate playbook for preventing competition escalating into conflict.
  • Former US Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific affairs Danny Russell: “We’re smack in the middle of a security dilemma where both sides are convinced that they're the victim, and unless we can begin to dilute the security dilemma where neither side can resist a tit-for-tat retaliation and one-upmanship, then we remain in an extremely high-risk status.”
  • Biden will be seeking to assure Xi that the US still adheres to the official US policy of strategic ambiguity, which lowers the risk of conflict between the US and China over Taiwan.
  • The Taiwan Relations Act of 1979 commits the US “to maintain the capacity of the United States to resist any resort to force or other forms of coercion that would jeopardize the security, or the social or economic system, of the people on Taiwan” but stops short of guaranteeing the defence of Taiwan.
  • Biden will have to tread a line with Xi which assures China that US presence in the region is benign, but also doesn't appear to make significant concessions to the bellicose Chinese rhetoric of recent days which would undermine the Biden administration's pivot to Asia, and stated ambition to contain Chinese influence in the Indo-Pacific.
  • The latest flashpoint is a supposed, but not confirmed, trip by House Speaker, and long-time China hawk, Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) to Taiwan.
  • As noted by the MNI Political risk team yesterday, the tensions are exacerbated by the upcoming Chinese Communist Party Congress which is expected to approve a third presidential term for President Xi in November, but also compels a harder line from Xi on emotive domestic issues like Taiwan.
  • Rather than following a subtle White House prodding to abandon the trip, Pelosi appears to have doubled-down on her Taiwan ambitions by inviting a fellow House lawmakers to join her in a Congressional delegation (CODEL) to the island.

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