During the Italian night, the long summit between the US and the Chinese presidents. There are signs of dialogue, but Beijing is threatening to take action on Taiwan
FROM OUR CORRESPONDENT
BEIJING In a virtual meeting lasting three hours and fourteen minutes via Zoom, months of “fierce competition” (a phrase used recently by the White House) and “cold war mentality” (the accusation repeated until yesterday obsessively from Beijing).
And Taiwan’s “red line” is always there, like a fuse ready to set off the fire. But beyond the expected Chinese toughness and American firmness on the present and future of the Taiwanese island, it is the photo published by Beijing that projects a sense of possible relaxation. Xi Jinping smiles, greets with an open hand, has the red Chinese flag and the American stars and stripes flag behind him.
The state press, inspired by the Party’s tissues, had insisted for days on defining the summit as a simple “meeting”, but today immediately observes that “it has injected certainty into the bilateral relationship” and “signals that the two nations will collaborate in many areas and, although they cannot avoid fierce competition, they are trying to manage it ». Beijing TV showed the initial stages of the summit meeting, when Xi addressed the American president calling him “an old friend”, a phrase that in Mandarin denotes respect, as well as cordiality. It is the body language, studied by Xi, that suggests the beginning of a dialogue phase. A relaxed face, a conciliatory smile, he looked like the CEO of an industrial giant who wants to make a good impression on a possible business partner. Light years away from the image of its foreign policy representatives who clashed with the Americans in Alaska in March. Even rhetoric can help, when you want to use it to stem a crisis e Xi repeated a phrase he loves very much: “the global village of humanity is facing many difficult challenges”. He said that “China and the United States, the two major economic powers and permanent members of the UN Security Council, must increase communication and cooperation.” He added that “the noble cause of peace and development must be pursued with a stable and healthy relationship between us”.
With the camera open to the public, Xi cited the fight against climate change and the pandemic, as Biden soon after. When it was the American “old friend” who uttered the opening sentence, Xi listened with an inscrutable but relaxed expression to the call to “place” guardrails “to prevent tensions from turning towards conflict”. Then, in the private confrontation, Xi claimed that Hong Kong and Taiwan are internal affairs on which China is unwilling to make any concessions. The White House admitted that “on Taiwan, we failed to establish a form of guardrail or any other arrangement, it was not part of the conversation.” But the Xinhua news agency reports that Xi reminded Biden that those who support Taiwanese independence “play with fire and get burned.” And he added that China will have to “take decisive measures if the separatists provoke us or force our hand, if anyone crosses the red lines” on Taiwan. There is only one China, the Communist leader reiterated. Biden replied that the United States “strongly opposes” any unilateral attempt to “change the status quo in the Taiwan Strait.” But the status quo, for seventy years, has said that Taiwan has its own government and does not intend to submit to Beijing. For years Xi Jinping has spoken of the “indispensable reunification”, while the Taiwanese do not pronounce the word independence. But what matters today is Xi’s choice to present himself smiling to the opponent and invoke the resumption of dialogue. China takes time. And he admits that only by communicating can the pilots of the superpowers avoid the collision (even accidental).
November 16, 2021 (change November 16, 2021 | 14:33)
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