Xi Jinping’s ears may whistle in the next few days. The European tour of US President Joe Biden has indeed a clear objective: to weld his allies in the face of the rise of China, which worries the West. It is a question of demonstrating, for its first trip abroad, that “the democracies of the whole world are united to face the most difficult challenges”, while Beijing continues to proclaim the superiority of its authoritarian system and increases its global influence.
During the G7, which starts this Friday in Cornwall, United Kingdom, the Democratic leader could draw inspiration from the method already applied in Asia by his diplomatic team, last March, during a meeting of the Quad (bringing together the Australia, India, Japan and the United States). “During this meeting, China was clearly implicit in the conversations, but it was not a summit directed against China,” said Ryan Hass, specialist in foreign policy and East Asia at the ‘Brookings Institute.
Thorny subjects and positions taken
Likewise, at the G7, Biden will seek to counter his rival by showing that democracies can provide solutions to the hottest problems. The leaders are expected in particular on their ability to distribute vaccines to the rest of the world, but also to offer a “green” alternative to the gigantic Chinese project of the “new silk roads”, which consists of developing immense infrastructure throughout. the planet. We will also have to see whether they will manage to align themselves with the issue of climate issues, as the COP 26 in Glasgow approaches this fall. “The whole question is to know if Biden and his interlocutors will be able, beyond the declarations of principle, to put in place concrete actions. And that will be difficult”, summarizes Ryan Hass.
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All this should be accompanied by positions, the words of which will be weighed, on thorny subjects. “There should be a statement calling for the maintenance of peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait, neutral enough, to show that this is an issue that is of concern to the world. the situation in Xinjiang and Hong Kong, as the foreign ministers of this group have already done, in early May “, anticipates the Brookings expert.
A more difficult consensus with Europe
This type of consensus should be more difficult to obtain with European leaders at the summit between the European Union and the United States on June 15. And this, because of the different sensitivities within the Old Continent, on the attitude to adopt vis-à-vis China. The EU has certainly toughened its tone against China – calling it a “systemic rival” in 2019 and sanctioning, along with Canada, the United States and the United Kingdom, Chinese officials deemed responsible for the repression of Uighurs in Xinjiang. But a large part of the member states do not want to be forced to choose their side in the battle between the United States and China. This is because of the economic interests at stake with the Asian giant, the EU’s largest trading partner.
“The Europeans do not always have exactly the same objectives as the Americans, who, for their part, lead a kind of single combat with China, to maintain their world supremacy, decrypts Pierre Vimont, former diplomat, and adviser to the think tank. Carnegie Europe. But, during Biden’s visit, there will be no dissent. It is clearly a question of defending our democratic systems against China and Russia, which are using all means to destabilize us. show that we are united, and that we will respond on a case-by-case basis, whether it be on cyber attacks or vaccine diplomacy, which consists in denigrating Europe in the countries of the South “.
China wants to show that it is not isolated
For its part, China should not stand idly by. After the meeting – very tense – last March in Alaska, between American and Chinese diplomacy, the Secretary of State of the United States, Antony Blinken, flew to Brussels, in order to meet with his allies of the ‘NATO. At the same time, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi hastened to receive his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov in China. Before traveling to Iran and Turkey, so many countries that have bad or strained relations with the United States.
In this month of June, China will undoubtedly once again be keen to show that it is not isolated on the international scene. For example, we can imagine that Presidents Xi Jinping and Vladimir Poutin will talk to each other, shortly after the meeting between Joe Biden and the Russian president, in Geneva, on June 16. Beijing should also seek to get closer to developing countries.
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“The Chinese will watch carefully what emerges from these meetings. They should continue to try to create dissension between the United States and Europe; to divide the European countries among themselves, and to push to revive the agreement on the investments. between the EU and China, ”suggests Bonnie Glaser, director of the Asia program at the German Marshall fund of the United States. Highly contested, this treaty is for the moment “suspended” because of “Chinese counter-sanctions”, weighing in particular on MEPs.
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