In the world of international diplomacy, there are few meetings as crucial as the one between the leaders of two superpowers. Recently, China’s Foreign Minister, Wang Yi, added a note of caution regarding the upcoming summit between President Xi Jinping and US President Joe Biden. The road to the San Francisco summit, Wang noted, would not be a smooth one. This statement has raised eyebrows and has led to speculations about the challenges both nations must overcome to ensure a successful meeting.
Wang Yi, who had recently met with President Biden and his top aides in Washington, expressed his commitment to work towards the expected bilateral meeting on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum summit. This commitment comes after a flurry of bilateral diplomatic engagements between the two nations, largely at the request of the United States. These diplomatic efforts aimed to salvage what had been rapidly deteriorating ties, particularly in the aftermath of the US downing of an alleged Chinese spy balloon.
The Road to the Summit
In his remarks, Wang Yi made it clear that the road to the summit would not be an easy one. He emphasized that the journey would not be on “autopilot,” implying that both nations would need to navigate carefully and address the numerous challenges on the path ahead.
Wang made these comments after engaging in discussions with members of the US strategic community in Washington. Notably, just last month, China’s top security agency suggested that any meeting between Xi Jinping and Joe Biden in San Francisco depended on the United States “showing sufficient sincerity.”
Returning to Bali
Wang Yi used the phrase “return to Bali” in his discussions. This was a reference to the last meeting between President Biden and President Xi, which took place on the sidelines of a Group of 20 summit on the Indonesian resort island of Bali in November of the previous year. During this meeting, the leaders discussed a range of critical issues, including those related to Taiwan, competition, and communication.
According to Wang, both Washington and Beijing need to put into practice the consensus that was achieved during that meeting in Bali. This entails removing interference, overcoming obstacles, enhancing consensus, and delivering tangible outcomes. In other words, it’s about translating words into action.
A Positive Signal for Stabilization
Wang Yi expressed optimism about the prospects for improved relations between China and the United States. He believed that it was useful and necessary to maintain a dialogue between the two nations, even as there remained various differences, contradictions, and unresolved issues.
The discussions that took place also delved into several areas of mutual interest, including China-US military interaction, finance, science and technology, China’s investment environment, market access, and the pressing international crises in the Middle East and Ukraine.
The road to the San Francisco summit, as articulated by Wang Yi, is not without its challenges. It is a journey that both China and the United States must undertake with caution, determination, and a commitment to finding common ground. As the world watches, the outcomes of this summit will have far-reaching implications for the future of global diplomacy and the stability of international relations.