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Three Meetings One Agenda – Getting China to Come to Heal

It has been a busy week for the Joe Biden Administration as the President and his team have several engagements lined up. Many of these engagements concern China.

The US is trying a new approach right now, a balancing act of sorts. There are three major meetings lined up this week. The first meeting was in China where Biden’s special envoy for climate John Kerry is visiting Shanghai to talk to Chinese officials. The second was Taiwan where the US administration’s top emissaries wrapped up their discussions with regard to the military situation vis-à-vis China. The third and final meeting is in Washington DC where the Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga will be at the White House. This will mark Joe Biden’s first in-person summit. Ironically on the agenda once again is China.

While the US is talking to China, it is also talking to China’s regional adversaries and these talks are happening simultaneously. What is to be seen is whether this approach will work or a confrontation is inevitable.

The three-day meeting that Kerry has begun with his Chinese counterparts is in advance of the summit to be held by the US president. The week following Biden will be hosting a climate summit of 40 odd countries so Kerry’s mission is very important right now. The US wants China to control its emissions, give up coal fire-powered stations, and stop supporting coal ventures abroad. It is ironic because the US and China are both the world’s worst polluters. A global summit wouldn’t be required if these two countries could find a way to work together and cut their emissions. The mission for the US to convince China to cut its emission shall not come easy. The reasons for this are as political as are financial. Financially switching to green energy will need investments so it won’t come cheap. Politically, why would China listen to America when America doesn’t listen to China on Taiwan.

John Kerry’s mission coincides with another American mission which involves the US delegation having wrapped up its three-day visit to Taipei. This was Biden’s first-ever unofficial delegation to Taiwan which included a former lawmaker and two former senior State Department officials. During the talks, Taiwan was to brief the US about China’s recent provocations, and reportedly more support from Washington was also demanded. The Taiwanese President told the US delegation that China’s military activities were threatening regional peace and stability. In response, China has cautioned the US to adhere to the one-China policy.

The third big meeting with respect to the US is President Biden’s meeting with the Japanese Prime Minister. Reports suggest that China is expected to dominate the talks as the US wants Japan to back Taiwan. Biden wants the Japanese leader to issue a joint statement of support to Taiwan. However, this is going to be tricky because Japan has its own dispute with China over Senkaku Islands. A joint statement of Taiwan will only aggravate the situation with China.

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