Chinese and US leaders kickstarted the process of stabilizing the two countries’ relationship through in-depth, candid, and constructive talks on an Indonesian resort island. As media attention faded and more talks are scheduled, sincere action is needed to implement the leaders’ consensus.
One of the well-received outcomes of this much anticipated meeting was that the two countries agreed to resume contact between high level officials to consolidate their common interests and manage differences. Before the leaders’ talks, the major communication mechanism for seeking cooperation and exchanging concerns between the two nations had stalled following the provocative Taiwan visit made by US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Concerns were left unaddressed and risks of misjudgments mounted.
Days after the Xi-Biden meeting, military ministers from China and the US held talks to reaffirm where the “red lines” are. US top diplomats are also planning to visit China for follow-up talks.
As diplomats and pundits observed, small countries in the Asia-Pacific prefer that China and the US maintain dialogue rather than spiraling into confrontation. The countries in the region are reluctant to take a side between China and the US on a range of issues, and fear the worst case scenario that tensions slide into direct conflicts or a war.
The work of building bridges has begun. Both sides should jointly work to transform the commitments expounded in the meeting room in Bali into real action. Action is the basis for stable China-US relations and what responsible major countries should do to respond to the expectations of the international community.
The Taiwan question is on the top of negotiation agenda. China’s leader told his US counterpart that at the very core of China's core interests, the Taiwan question, is the first red line that must not be crossed. The Biden administration has amplified the risk of miscalculation by frequently touching on a possible war scenario across the Taiwan Strait and the role the US might play in it on various occasions. Washington should stop using the so-called concerns as excuses to meddle with China’s internal affairs. It could shake off its self-imposed fears about the island’s future were it to build a stable relationship with Beijing.
As the world’s two top economies, China and the US must shoulder the responsibility of helping the global economy weather the ongoing crisis. The global supply chain, in which both countries play integral parts, is key to ending the economic crisis. If the US insists on its decoupling strategy and lets bilateral ties go off the rails, the global supply chain will be plagued by insecurity, making strong recovery years away.
The Xi-Biden meeting inarguably yielded some positive outcomes, and it opened a window too valuable to be missed for repairing bilateral ties with political will, wisdom and sincere action.