On the Ukraine David v. Goliath Attacks: How U.S., Russia, and Afghanistan Stand Together in Support of One Another
There is a former CNN producer and correspondent called Frida Ghitis who writes a world affairs column. She is a weekly opinion contributor to CNN, a contributing columnist to The Washington Post and a columnist for World Politics Review. The thoughts expressed in this commentary are of her own. View more opinion on CNN.
On Sunday, almost by accident, two groups of demonstrators came together in London. One was waving Ukrainian flags; the other Iranian flags. They cheered each other and said, “All together we will win.”
The January 6 attack was still being considered a major incident one year ago. Russia was accusing the United States of “hysteria” for claiming Moscow planned to invade Ukraine. Ukraine was skeptical. The leaders of China and Russia, looking confident, seemed prepared to defy the world. From South America to Asia, there was a decline in the quality of democracy. A test of historic significance was about to start.
These David v. Goliath battles show bravery that is almost unimaginable to the rest of us – and is inspiring equally courageous support in places like Afghanistan.
The Misleading Regime of the Syrian Civil War: What Has Russia Learned in the Last Ten-Year War? – Russian President Vladimir Putin, his Military, and the Ukraine
The death of a young woman in Iran was the source of the fire. She was arrested and died in the custody of morality police for breaking dress codes.
In scenes of exhilarated defiance, Iranian women have danced around fires in the night, shedding the hijab – the headcover mandated by the regime – and tossing it into the flames.
It’s why women are climbing on cars, waving their hijab in the air, like a flag of freedom, and gathering crowds of supporters in city streets, and in universities, where security forces are opening fire to try and silence them.
After all, it was less than a decade ago that Russian President Vladimir Putin’s military entered Syria’s long civil war, helping to save the dictator Bashar al-Assad (as Iran had).
In a major victory for Ukraine that Zelensky called “the beginning of the end of the war,” Russian forces abandoned Kherson to avoid a battlefield rout. The Western-backed Ukrainians continue their successful push against the invasion that Russian President Vladimir Putin launched in February just days after meeting with Xi in Beijing.
Russia spent billions of dollars on supposedly modernizing its military, but it turned out that it was a sham. It has discovered its supply chains don’t function a few dozen miles from its own borders; that its assessment of Ukraine as desperate to be freed from its own “Nazism” is the distorted product of nodding yes-men, feeding a president – Vladimir Putin – what he wanted to hear in the isolation of the pandemic.
Russia’s military was exposed as a paper tiger after the war and resulted in growing oppression at home. Putin’s genius, it turns out, was a mirage.
Iran, whose repressive, interventionist regime has also turned it, like Russia, into a pariah to much of the world, now finds itself being courted by both Moscow and Beijing.
Iran sold weapons before the war started but they were not used in Ukraine, changing their original denials. Now, newly-declassified documents show the drones in Ukraine are identical to those Iran has used in the Middle East.
The regimes that have in common are very repressive and willing to project power abroad.
Iran’s prisons are filled with regime critics and courageous journalists – including Niloofar Hamedi, first to report what happened to Mahsa Amini. Journalism is a dangerous profession in Russia. It is also Criticism of Putin. After trying and failing to kill opposition leader Alexei Navalny, Putin’s people manufactured charges to keep him in a penal colony indefinitely.
There is more to it than the low probability of a fall of the Iranian regime. It would be a turning point in their countries’ lives and have an influence on Tehran. After all, Iran’s constitution calls for spreading its Islamist revolution.
The world’s leading autocrats looked unstoppable even. The Western democracies were roiled by often violent protests against Covid-19 restrictions. Putin was preparing for triumph in Ukraine. Xi was preparing to solidify his control over China as the host of the Olympics.
Mr. Sadjadpour writes that global integration would be dangerous, but may be detrimental to the regime. The regime may have a best chance to survive if it maintains repressive rule and just the right amount of isolation. Ayatollah Khamenei wants to be “neither North Korea nor Dubai. He wants to be able to sell Iran’s oil on the global market without sanctions, but he doesn’t want Iran to be fully integrated in the global system.”
The Biden administration and other nations involved have been trying to get the Iran nuclear deal back on track after Donald Trump ripped it up. The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Actions is at a standstill because Western negotiators cannot meet two Iranian conditions that the United States cannot, in particular, end investigations into traces of plutonium at covert sites. It is Iran’s decision as to whether to revive the deal, and it’s not likely to be swayed by American behavior.
Whatever the future of the nuclear deal, its fate should not preclude the United States and its allies from vigorously supporting the desire of Iranian protesters for global integration, through better access to the essential tools of communication, organizing and protest.
The moral case is not solely the outrageous behavior of the clerical regime. It is also the fact that so much of the economic suffering of the Iranian people — rents that have multiplied, goods that have become prohibitively expensive, a currency that has plummeted so low that Iranians need stacks of bills to do everyday shopping — is the result of waves of American sanctions.
The Huawei Experience and the Rise of China as a Threat to the Free and Open International System: A Reply to the Chinese President Vladimir Putin
Europe is attempting to deal with Russia in a state of denial while hoping it will change into a state of decline. One abiding comfort may be that, after underestimating Moscow’s potential for malice, the risk for Europe would be to overstate its potential as a threat.
But his biggest warning surrounded dependence on Chinese companies that are closely linked to the state, or that would have no choice but to turn over data on individuals upon demand by the Chinese authorities. The Huawei experience, he said in the interview, “opened our eyes to the extent to which even the biggest businesses in China are ultimately wrapped up with the Chinese state” and have no choice but to comply “because of the way in which the Communist Party works and the national security laws operate.”
Xi said before the talks that someone should think about and know where to lead their country. He should also think about and know how to get along with other countries and the wider world,” could be seen as an acknowledgment of new responsibility with China now a major world power. It was the kind of lecture that Washington once delivered to Chinese leaders that they are now throwing back at the US.
Mr. Fleming said that in the case of China, this could be “the sliding-doors moment in history,” in which the United States and its allies may soon discover that they are too far behind in a series of critical technologies to maintain a military or technological edge over Beijing.
He said China’s move to develop central bank digital currencies which could be used to track transactions was a shift that could also allow China to evade the kinds of international sanctions being applied to Putin’s regime in Russia. He said that was one example of how China was “learning the lessons” from the war in Ukraine, presumably to apply them if it decided to move against Taiwan and prompted further efforts by the U.S. and its allies to isolate it economically.
“Russia poses an immediate threat to the free and open international system, recklessly flouting the basic laws of the international order today, as its brutal war of aggression against Ukraine has shown,” the document reads. China is the only competitor who has both the intent to remake the international order and technological power to do so.
Biden has put the high-stakes competition with China at the center of his engagements with foreign leaders, pressing allies by phone and in person to take a sharper line. The US wants to gain the upper hand in the proxy economic and technological competition happening between two powers over developing countries.
The document, required by Congress, comes 21 months into Biden’s term. Over the course of the President’s tenure, there has been evidence of a focus on building global partnerships and fighting China and Russia.
Jake Sullivan said the strategy made clear the White House wasn’t looking the world through a strategic competition.
“We will not leave our future vulnerable to the whims of those who do not share our vision for a world that is free, open, prosperous, and secure,” he goes on. “As the world continues to navigate the lingering impacts of the pandemic and global economic uncertainty, there is no nation better positioned to lead with strength and purpose than the United States of America.”
“This decisive decade is critical both for defining the terms of competition, particular with the (People’s Republic of China), and for getting ahead of massive challenges that if we lose the time this decade we will not be able to keep pace with,” he said.
To be sure, many Chinese are proud of their country’s achievements. Under Xi, China declared an end to extreme poverty, modernized its military, emerged as a leader in next-generation technology and greatly expanded its global influence. It is striving to become the dominant power in space, commands the world’s largest navy, and makes its weight felt as an emerging superpower.
But as Xi grapples with a sharp economic downturn, growing frustration with his uncompromising zero-Covid policy and surging tensions with the United States and its allies, the sense of crisis that beset his rise to power has continued to haunt him, and is set to shape his rule in the years – if not decades – to come.
The party was back in control of all aspects of life. The party cells were brought back to life by setting up new branches in private and foreign companies. It tightened its grip on the media, education, religion and culture, strangled civil society, and unleashed harsh crackdowns on Xinjiang and Hong Kong.
The son of a reformist chose a path of total control instead of following his father’s footsteps. He has eliminated his rivals, tightened his grip on the economy, made the party inescapable in China and created his own cult of personality in daily life.
The narrative of China being invaded, carved up and weakened by the West is part of the reason why the Chinese dream is a bitter one.
It is expected that the leader of the Chinese Communist Party will be anointed for the third time this week, ensuring that he becomes the country’s most powerful leader since Mao.
Bo, who was a promising leader of the city, was in danger of losing his leadership position, when his police chief tried to defect to the US and accuse him of covering up the murder of a British businessman. Party leaders feuded over how to deal with the fallout. Eventually, Bo was investigated and expelled from the party weeks before the five-yearly power reshuffle. Bo and his wife are today both serving life in prison.
“Our party faces many grave challenges and there are many pressing problems within the party that need to be solved, in particular corruption,” Xi said in his first speech hours after being appointed the top leader.
Xi’s “Run Philosophy”: China’s Failure in a Cold War, Its Defection, and the Misunderstanding of China
In the online sphere, extensive censorship and real-life retaliation tamed social media. It became an amplifier for party propaganda and a breeding ground for nationalism rather than being a catalyst for social and political reforms.
Beijing’s Covid restrictions have put China out of sync with the rest of the world. Three years of lockdowns and border curbs have disrupted supply chains, damaged international businesses, and hurt flows of trade and investment between China and other countries.
Hundreds of thousands died in the turmoil, including Xi’s half-sister who was persecuted to death. Xi’s father was purged and tortured. Xi himself was incarcerated, publicly humiliated and sent to hard labor in an impoverished village at age 15.
According to an expert on Chinese politics at American, his emphasis on party authority and stopping people from disagreeing with the party is a result of his fear of chaos.
“(He) believed that to achieve political order you needed to have a powerful leader, a powerful party, not creating a system in which people had rights that went too far, because they would only abuse them and hurt other individuals,” Torigian said.
“Why did the Soviet Union disintegrate? Is there a reason why the Soviet Communist Party collapsed? An important reason was that their ideals and beliefs had been shaken,” Xi told senior officials in a speech months after taking the helm of the party.
The most disillusioned are seeking a way out. The phrase “Run philosophy” has become a Chinese buzzword that encourages people to emigrate in order to escape what is seen as a doomed future. A conviction that America is too political and that China has a superior political model enabled the country to fight Covid better than the Western democracies. But the growing number of disciples of “run philosophy” is an outright rejection of that narrative, showing many Chinese have no faith in his promise to make China great again.
In recent years, American measures to counter China’s rising influence has only reinforced its sense of being under siege from Western powers, McGregor said.
It has a great deal of appeal in China. It is very powerful. I think Xi understands that and he intends to harness that to his own ends,” he said.
The grand celebration marking the party’s century came last summer and was a stark warning to the west. The Chinese nation will not be mistreated or conquered by foreign powers, stated the President as he stood on top of Tiananmen or the Gate of Heavenly Peace. “Anyone who dares to try, will find their heads bashed bloody against a great wall of steel forged by over 1.4 billion Chinese people,” he said to thundering applause from the crowd.
Clearly, there’s an internal contradiction in Xi’s dual goals. If you want to elevate your standing to that of a respected global leader, it’s hard to create an alliance of rule-breaking autocrats and assorted dictators, and then expect other countries to join enthusiastically.
Both Putin and Xi see the US as being bent on holding down both China and Russia. They both share the belief that a new world order should better accommodate their nations interests and not be dominated by the West.
The US Department of State estimates that China has imprisoned up to 2 million Uyghurs and other ethnic minorities, even though its loans for its “Belt and Road” policy have not been well received. Earlier this year, Pew polling found “negative views of China remain at or near historic highs in many of the 19 countries” where the organization polled.
Beijing has antagonized many of its neighbors with its claims of sovereignty. China built and militarized islands in the South China Sea, raised military tensions over a disputed island chain with Japan, and engaged in bloody border conflicts with India. It has also ramped up military intimidation of Taiwan, a self-governing democracy Xi has vowed to “reunify” with the mainland.
That difficult international environment, along with the toll of zero-Covid and the economic headwinds, poses a big challenge for Xi in the years ahead.
Mao may have founded Communist China. The party narrative says that the leader of the country will be Xi, and he will lead it into the future as the new global superpower. He will have a profound impact on the world if he succeeds.
On Sunday, during his speech to the congress of China’s ruling elite, he defended his hard line reign as the leader who had saved the nation from the ravages of the Pandemic and had now focused on securing the growth of China.
But his praise was coupled with a somber warning that the nation must stand united behind the party to cope with a world he depicted as increasingly turbulent — and hostile. And though he did not mention the United States by name, his distrust of the world’s other great power was an unmistakable backdrop to that exhortation.
“Be mindful of dangers in the midst of peace,” Mr. Xi said. Before the rain comes, it is advisable to get the house in good repair and ready for the major tests of high winds and waves.
Xi, Putin, Putin and the Taiwan question: What do Chinese strategists expect from the Communist Party? “New Era” and “New China”
The professor was at the party’s top academy and helped train many high-ranking people. An economist who would win China’s top economics prize for 2012. A historian is planning to teach a class about Chinese history, including the Cultural Revolution.
He used the term “new era” 39 times in his speech, boasting of the party’s achievements under his leadership. But for some Chinese, it has been a dark era — a shift away from a system that, while authoritarian, tolerated private enterprise and some diversity in public opinion, to one that now espouses a single ideology and a single leader.
“This is a partnership of convenience between two embattled dictatorships,” said Karim Sadjadpour, an Iran expert at the Washington-based Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.
Both countries are going through hard times. Iran is attempting to quell street protests that pose the most serious challenge in years to the government, while Russia is trying to manage rising dissension over a faltering war effort and an unpopular draft.
Operationally, these new leaders will be tasked with overseeing another aspect of the PLA’s operations that Xi wants to emphasize: what are known in the United States as “military operations other than war.”
Russia is digging in on the eastern side of the Dnipro River in southern Ukraine, and has the advantage that the Donetsk and Luhansk frontlines in Ukraine’s east are nearer its border. Yet its challenges are immense: poorly trained, forcibly conscripted personnel make up 77,000 of its frontline troops – and that’s according to the glossy assessment voiced by Putin. It is having difficulty with munitions, and also with its winter supply chain.
What should be even more worrying for Xi, as he prepares to secure an expected third term as both party leader and supreme commander of the Chinese military at this week’s 20th Party Congress, is that many analysts see parallels between the problems dogging Moscow in Ukraine and the potential weak spots that remain in the PLA.
The “Taiwan question” is an internal matter in China. It is “at the very core of China’s core interests, the bedrock of the political foundation of China-U.S. relations, and the first red line that must not be crossed in China-U.S. relations,” wrote Hua, the spokesperson, on Twitter after the meeting ended.
Xi Military Forces in Taiwan: Implications for the PLA Navy and NATO, and the Case for a Special Military Operation
It would be the biggest amphibious operation since the Allies invaded Normandy in World War II with hundreds of thousands of soldiers, according to analysts.
While the PLA Navy has been churning out ships – including a new aircraft carrier launched this year and numerous Type 055 destroyers, seen by some as the world’s most powerful surface ships – doing so has been expensive.
Taiwan has a cheap and effective way of fighting Russia, which is by investing in land-based anti-ship missiles that have successfully battled Russia in the past.
China also faces a significant challenge in making sure all the different parts of its now formidable fighting forces pull in the same direction – another issue that has dogged Russia in Ukraine.
The creation of unified command structures in which naval, air, army and rocket units work together effectively is in the early stages.
The command system for joint operations needs to be improved and the PLA needs to have better systems for battlefield support and integrated Logistics support, according to the Sunday work report.
In the days following the visit the PLA’s navy war-gamed a blockade of Taiwan, its rocket force sent missiles over the main island and its air force flew jets repeatedly into Taipei’s Air Defense Identification Zone.
Four of the top six officers of China’s Central Military Commission (CMC) have reached the normal retirement age of 68 and are being replaced as Xi heads into his third term, according to Joel Wuthnow, a senior research fellow at the Center for the Study of Chinese Military Affairs at the US National Defense University.
The four officers who are leaving were in charge of the fighting forces, while the two remaining officers are from themilitary’s political ranks.
Analysts have warned that language could be a smokescreen for something more sinister – likening it to how Russian President Vladimir Putin refers to his invasion of Ukraine as a “special military operation.”
CNN’s Peter Bergen: State Media Response to the Beijing “Mileile-Boat” Launch of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army
The missile was fired by the Eastern Theater command of the Chinese People’s Liberation ArmyPLA to hit designated maritime areas to the east of Taiwan.
State media in China played down the order and said it would cover actions such as participating in international peacekeepers or providing disaster relief.
The IANS news service said the outlines aim to prevent and mitigate risks and challenges, handle emergencies, protect people and property and safeguard national sovereignty.
He wrote in July that China would be taking a step away from its peaceful rise by implementing new guidelines on non-war operations.
There is a deep distrust on both sides and it is possible to take back some of the voluntary boundaries on behavior rather than limit new capabilities to get through a particularly perilous period.
There’s a risk that the impulse to counter each potential threat will fuel overextension abroad and make it hard to focus on achieving positive priorities and outcomes. In the United States, escalated competition could exacerbate domestic divisions and undermine democracy. Already, increased xenophobia and anti-Asian violence in America, along with ramped-up efforts to protect research security, have led more than 60 percent of Chinese-born scientists working in the United States — including naturalized citizens and permanent residents — to consider leaving the country.
Peter Bergen is a CNN national security analyst, a vice president at New America and a professor at Arizona State University. Bergen is the author of a book. The views expressed in this commentary are his own. View more opinion on CNN.
What has the US done since the Ukrainian War in Ukraine? The U.S. economy is doing well despite the crisis in Ukraine, and its relationship with the West
This year the United States is riven by polarization, it’s democracy is threatened, inflation is raging and the index is down. Yet, despite all these problems, if you zoom out and look at the world overall, the US is still doing quite well compared to its key enemies and closest allies.
China lost its ties with the West over the origin of the coronaviruses, trade, territorial claims and Beijing’s human rights record despite the devastating war in Ukraine.
Led by the US, NATO is now stronger than ever, supplying Ukraine with significant amounts of weaponry and bulking up its collective defense spending. NATO is also adding the formerly non-aligned countries of Finland and Sweden to the alliance. The NATO alliance is being relevant again today despite Donald Trump’s threats to leave the alliance.
Yet some good has come from this debacle. Europe knows it needs to get rid of its dependence on Russian gas and other fossil fuels immediately and in the long run, because economic dependence on the fossil fuels of dictators does not bring long-term stability.
Meanwhile, American weaponry, such as anti-tank Javelin missiles and High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS) that are GPS-guided precision rockets, and US technologies, such as the Starlink satellite-based broadband Internet communication system supplied by Elon Musk, have helped to turn the tide of the war in Ukraine.
The zero-Covid policy, combined with what the Wall Street Journal terms a “full-blown property downturn,” are dramatically slowing the Chinese economy. As of June, youth unemployment was almost 20%.
The American War Between the United States and the United Kingdom: The Case of the Brexit Done Exit From the EU and the U.S.
Another American rival, Iran, is riven by countrywide street protests that are threatening the regime arguably as much as any protests have done since 1979.
In the western hemisphere, Venezuela is also in free fall under its socialist government; almost seven million people have left the country since 2014, a quarter of the population.
China, Iran, Russia, and Venezuela share a common feature; they are autocracies – not exactly a form of government known for serving the interests of the people.
European countries are generally faring better than the UK but still face their own problems. The dollar, which is at a two-decade high against the Euro, remains strong as the Fed raises interest rates and the American economy continues to be the most dynamic in the world. Indeed, the US has the lowest unemployment rate in five decades. The US is now the largest producer of both gas and oil.
Former Prime Minister Boris Johnson ran a campaign in 2019 to “Get Brexit Done,” completing the withdrawal from the EU in January 2020. This was supposed to unleash the British from all the onerous obligations of the European Union.
It has turned out to be an economic disaster. Europeans who used to be free to come to Britain for work are no longer permitted to do so and many jobs that would have been filled with them are unfilled. In real terms, the UK’s per capita income has gone up by less than 4% since the EU did the same six years ago.
The harm of the UK’s leaving the EU was compounded by Prime Minister Liz Truss who proposed tax cuts for the rich. The pound fell to historic lows after the tax cut was reversed, but the damage had already been done. She announced her resignation under pressure Thursday, on track to becoming Britain’s shortest-serving prime minister.
And what about that bilateral US-UK trade deal that Conservative leaders said would supposedly wave a magic wand over the UK’s economic mess? Truss told reporters in September, “There (aren’t) currently any negotiations taking place with the US, and I don’t have an expectation that those are going to start in the short to medium term.” To quote a great New Yorker cartoon, this is government-speak acknowledging the Americans have told the British that never is good for them.
U.S. President Joe Biden and Xi Jinping meet in Bali for a bilateral summit of the 20th meeting of the United States and China
American vaccine technology used by Pfizer and Moderna helped to turn the tide against Covid-19 in the United States and other countries that used these vaccines. The Russians and Chinese vaccines have been less effective than Covid-19.
Immigration, which is often treated as a problem by Americans, underlines the continuing attraction of the United States. Meanwhile, hundreds of thousands of Russians have fled their homeland since Putin announced a partial mobilization in the war against Ukraine, and tens of thousands have left Hong Kong after the Chinese takeover of the formerly autonomous city.
When Joe Biden and Xi Jinping first got to know each other more than 10 years ago, the US and China had been moving closer for three decades despite their differences.
There will be another honest exchange between the leaders on the sidelines of the Group of 20 summit in Indonesia on Monday. But the mood in the room is unlikely to be as balmy as the surrounding location.
Biden, meanwhile, arrived in Asia following a better-than-expected performance by his party in the US midterm elections – with the Democrats projected to keep the Senate in a major victory. Asked Sunday if the results would allow him to have a stronger hand on Monday, Biden said he was confident. “I know I’m coming in stronger,” he told reporters.
She said that the leader of the opposition would try to emphasize the importance of peace. “As Russia is getting impatient with the lack of progress on the battlefield, the timing is ripening for peace talk in China’s eyes.”
The meeting could potentially be used for more than just airing grievances, according to a China expert. “For instance, a joint declaration by Biden and Xi that they oppose the threat or use of nuclear weapons in Ukraine and on the Korean Peninsula, as well as a nod to restarting working-level exchanges on areas of common interest such as climate change and counter-narcotics would be promising.”
A senior White House official said Thursday Biden wants to use the talks to “build a floor” for the relationship – in other words, to prevent it from free falling into open conflict. The main objective of the sit-down is not about reaching agreements or deliverables – the two leaders will not release any joint statement afterward – but about gaining a better understanding of each other’s priorities and reducing misconceptions, according to the US official.
Jake Sullivan, the US national security adviser, told reporters that the meeting is not likely to have a huge impact on the relationship.
While expectations of a reset of relations are low, the meetings could serve to stave off disagreements and reopen communication lines – in ways similar to the meeting between Xi and Biden.
According to Kennedy, who recently returned from a weeks-long visit to China, each side blames the other entirely for the state of the relationship and they believe they are faring better than the other.
“The Chinese think they’re winning, the Americans think they’re winning, and so they’re willing to bear these costs. And they think the other side is very unlikely to make any significant changes,” Kennedy said. “All of those things reduce the likelihood of significant adjustments.”
But experts say the very fact that the two leaders are having a face-to-face conversation is itself a positive development. Dialogue is important in reducing risks of misunderstanding and miscalculations, especially when suspicions run deep and tensions are high.
Direct communication is all the more important given Xi has just secured a norm-shattering third term with a tighter grip on power than ever – and a possibility to rule for life. “There is no one else in their system who can really communicate authoritatively other than Xi Jinping,” national security adviser Sullivan said.
Biden said after the talks that he didn’t find Xi “more confrontational or more conciliatory. I found him to be straightforward and direct. … We were very blunt with one another about places where we disagreed or where we were uncertain of each other’s position.”
“I would love to be a fly on the wall to see that conversation because I don’t think that the US or China has been very precise about what its red lines are. And I also don’t think either has been very clear about what positive rewards the other side would reap from staying within those red lines,” said Kennedy, of CSIS.
China has repeatedly accused the US of “playing with fire” and hollowing out the “one China” policy. Beijing was upset when the US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi came to the island for a high-profile visit.
Now the two leaders are sitting down in the same room – a result of weeks of intensive discussions between the two sides – Taiwan is widely expected to top their agenda. But in a sign of the contentiousness of the issue, barbs have already been traded.
“Do I believe he’s willing to compromise on certain issues? Biden told reporters after his meeting with the Chinese leader that yes. “We were very blunt with one another about places where we disagreed.”
But to the surprise of many, the meeting featured televised images of smiling officials, handshakes, and a commitment to reopening lines of communication on urgent global issues. The Secretary of State will visit China next year after clashing with his Chinese counterpart at the Alaska summit.
Experts in the US and China say some progress on greater communication and access between the two countries will already be considered a positive outcome – such as restoring suspended climate and military talks.
The First White House Summit: Joe Biden, David Trone, and the Growing Strength of American Democracy: What the G-20 Summit told us about the Post-G20 Landscape?
Thirty-seven minutes after wrapping up a late-night gala dinner with Asian leaders – punctuated by plates of wild Mekong lobster and beef saraman – an aide handed President Joe Biden the phone.
On the other end of the line was David Trone, the millionaire Maryland wine retailer who was thousands of miles and a time zone 12 hours away and had just clinched another term in the House.
The call wasn’t long, a person familiar with it said, but reflected the warmth and enthusiasm Biden had deployed dozens of times in calls to winning candidates over the last week – each one further solidifying a midterm election that dramatically reshaped the prevailing view of his presidency.
But on the other side of the world, Biden’s advisers say there has been a tangible effect tied to election results that, had they matched historical trends, threatened to undermine his standing ahead of the most consequential meeting of his first two years.
US national security adviser Jake Sullivan provided a glimpse into dynamics of the moment, pointing to the fact “that many leaders took note of the results of the midterms, came up to the president to engage him and to say that they were following them closely.”
“I would say one theme that emerged over the course of the two days was the theme about the strength of American democracy and what this election said about American democracy,” Sullivan told reporters aboard Air Force One as Biden traveled from Phnom Penh to Bali, Indonesia, for the Group of 20 Summit.
White House officials, even those who braced for losses in the weeks leading up to election day, have cast aside any reticence to take to their Twitter accounts or to TV interviews to call out pundits and politicians who predicted otherwise.
It is a reflection of a team that feels underestimated and has a difficult time getting success after their first 21 months in office.
White House officials had been circling the G-20 as the likely sit-down with Xi for months. There were intensive preparations between the two sides in the lead up to announcing the engagement publicly. The precarious state of the relationship required a sit down regardless of domestic politics.
The election results prove that Biden is correct when he says that an American political landscape that rattles allies and foes alike is actually working.
But privately, multiple people familiar with the matter said, there was an awareness of the potential split screen of a US president grappling with his party’s political defeat at the same moment Xi would arrive in Bali at the peak of his power in the wake of the Community Party Congress, during which he secured a norm-breaking third term in power.
One US official said, “Perception matters and so does political standing.” “It’s not the be-all, end-all, and it was never a central focus or driver of the dynamics, but we’re well aware of the fact everyone was watching this election around the world.”
Far from a liability, however, each of the congratulatory calls back home have underscored the driving wind at the back of a president who entered the meeting with Xi at a moment where US-China relations appear to be inching away from great power competition toward inevitable conflict.
Biden said that the results weren’t needed for the meeting to achieve its goals given his long-standing relationship with Xi as their nation’s vice president. US officials are careful not to overstate the effect on a trip, where the layers of complexity and challenges far exceed what voters decide in a congressional district or swing state.
Biden isn’t subtle about his sweeping view of the geopolitics at stake in the moment and he is framed as a “inflection point” for the battle between democracy and autocracy.
Until Election Day, allies and opponents were left to guess what Biden was going to say when he answered the questions with an emphatic “Yes”.
Former President Donald Trump, whose election lies had driven the assault on the US Capitol, hadn’t faded away and he remained the most powerful figure inside the Republican Party.
Biden was able to get a lot of his domestic agenda done on a bipartisan basis. His approval rating fell to a low 40s, weighed down by four-decade high inflation and a population careened from crisis to crisis.
The possibility that Biden would face the same harsh judgment of his first two years in office as nearly all his recent predecessors wasn’t just likely. It was expected.
Instead, as he moved through bilateral meetings and pull-asides, gala dinners and summit gatherings, Biden’s own political vindication served another purpose for his approach on the world stage: Validation.
Biden “feels that it does establish a strong position for him on the international stage and we saw that I think play out in living color today,” Sullivan told reporters after Biden departed the ASEAN-US Summit, as the Xi meeting loomed. He will see that when we head into the G20 and his bilateral engagements in Indonesia.
Speaking after the three-hour meeting, Biden described it as an “open and candid” discussion, saying he planned to manage the China relationship “responsibly.”
Nevada Rep. Dina Titus, who faced a tough reelection battle in a redrawn district, had secured another term in office. Biden needed to show his gratitude.
A First Face-to-Face Exchange between the US and China since Biden’s Xi-Biden War and an Improved COP 27 Climate Conference
The summit in Indonesia yielded two important outcomes, according to the US: A joint position that Russia must not use a nuclear weapon in Ukraine and an expected resumption of talks on climate between American and Chinese negotiators, a boost for the COP 27 global climate conference in Egypt.
The US statement that Xi and Biden spoke of their opposition to use of nuclear weapons in Ukraine was very important, as it underscored their opposition to the use of nuclear weapons.
Leon Panetta – a former White House chief of staff, defense secretary and CIA chief who dealt with US-China relations for decades – expressed cautious optimism after the talks on the sidelines of the G20 summit.
“If the result of this meeting is to put the relationship back on a more diplomatic plane, in which instead of beating each other up they can begin a dialogue on the kind of issues that need to be dealt with, I think this meeting could very well be pivotal,” Panetta told CNN’s John King on “Inside Politics.”
“Neither side should try to remold the other in one’s own image or seek to change or even subvert the other’s system,” the Chinese Foreign Ministry said.
Washington’s foreign policy came full circle since part of Richard Nixon’s motive in engaging China during the 1970s Cold War was to open strategic gaps between Beijing and Moscow.
But, experts say, the situation in China has changed a lot in recent months, which might necessitate a different approach to Putin this time around.
Today’s meeting was the first face-to-face exchange between the two since Biden became president. It took place after both leaders had just strengthened their respective political positions at home, analysts say.
According to Chatham House senior research fellow Yu Jie, he is in a better position to steer Washington’s relationship with Beijing as a result of Biden’s success.
It may be a diplomatic reset of some sort, but not one where both sides really approach each other in good faith and are prepared to compromise, according to Lee.
The State Department of State and the Xi-Biden Meeting: Beijing’s Counterattack on the “Russian War in Ukraine”
The State Department said that Secretary of State Antony Blinken will also visit China in person sometime early next year to follow up on the Xi-Biden meeting.
From Beijing’s perspective, the U.S. has since done the opposite on all counts. It has imposed the semiconductor export bans and sanctioned some of China’s leading technology firms — moves Beijing decried.
“The world is big enough for the two countries to develop themselves and prosper together,” tweeted Hua Chunying, a foreign ministry spokesperson who accompanied Xi in his meeting with Biden.
On Taiwan, despite intense media speculation over Beijing’s intention, Biden said he did “not think there’s any imminent attempt on the part of China to invade Taiwan.”
But the president objected to Beijing’s “coercive and increasingly aggressive” Chinese actions in the waters around Taiwan, according to the White House readout, adding such behaviors “undermine peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait and in the broader region, and jeopardize global prosperity.”
The U.S. has pushed China to take a clearer stand against Russia’s war in Ukraine, which China has tried to remain neutral on despite signing a partnership with Moscow in February.
A readout from the French Presidency said the two leaders “reaffirmed their firm position on preventing the use of nuclear weapons” in the war in Ukraine – a line that was not included in the Chinese readout.
Last year, China’s foreign minister Wang Yi put out three core demands — “bottom lines” — that China wanted the U.S. to agree to in order for relations to improve: to not get in the way in the country’s development, to respect China’s claims over places like Taiwan and to respect Beijing’s Communist Party rule.
Nancy Pelosi has visited Taiwan since August, with the U.S. increasing ties with the island. Congress is considering drawing on the U.S. weapons stockpile to arm the island at American expense. Biden said in the press conference that the U.S. policy on Taiwan remained the same.
The US-China G20 Meeting Meeting Stronger ties in the Intl-Hongk Index: A positive outcome from a positive outcome for China
While Biden came in to the G20 with a stronger stance, he is up for reelection in two years.
Analysts said the meeting could lay the groundwork for stronger ties between the world’s top economic powerhouses. Stock markets in mainland China and Hong Kong were buoyed as a result, with technology giants such as Alibaba
(BABA) and Tencent (TCEHY) soaring on Tuesday.
Neil Thomas, senior analyst for China and Northeast Asia at Eurasia Group said the goal of the meeting was to build a floor between Beijing and Washington.
Ken Cheung, chief Asian foreign exchange strategist at Mizuho Bank, said the meeting was a positive sign that the two sides were keen to find common ground.
Hong Kong’s Hang Seng
(HSI) Index rallied nearly 4% on Tuesday, on track to record a third straight day of gains. The index has risen over the last week because of China's policy shift towards a gradual reopening of borders and a rescue package for the property sector.
The Chinese technology sector was hammered by a regulatory squeeze at home and the rise of tensions in the Middle East. Alibaba shares shot up by 11% in Hong Kong, followed by Tencent, which was up 10%.
Biden’s reiteration of the US position on Taiwan and its “One China” policy was helpful, they said, as was Xi speaking out against the use of nuclear weapons by Russia.
Xi and Macron at the G20 summit in Australia: Six years after Turnbull’s G20 sit-down, comment on ING
“This was far more progress than we, or indeed most commentators had expected, and dominates what may otherwise turn out to have been a fairly irrelevant G20 summit,” the ING analysts said.
Scott Morrison had brief informal discussions with China’s president at the G20 in Japan in 2019. But it has been six years since leaders from the two sides have held a formal bilateral meeting, after then Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s sit-down with Xi at the G20 in the Chinese city of Hangzhou in 2016.
In a sign of Xi’s busy schedule, the Chinese leader and French President Emmanuel Macron squeezed in a meeting early on Tuesday, before both leaders showed up at the opening of the G20 summit.
China favors a ceasefire, a stop to war and peace talks as a solution to the crisis in Ukraine, according to a statement from Chinese state media.
France has hardened its stance on China in recent years, viewing the country as a threat to security and a competitor.
For the majority of the pandemic Xi limited his diplomatic activities to virtual summits and video conferences, choosing to stay within China, rather than travel overseas.
As the case with the meeting between Xi and Biden, few in Australia expect the meeting between Xi and Albanese can completely reset the two countries’ strained relations.
The two countries have been locked in a bruising trade dispute and diplomatic freeze since early 2020, when China slapped tariffs on Australia following its call for an investigation into the origins of the coronavirus.
He said that having the meeting alone was a successful outcome, pointing out the lack of dialogue at the top level for years.
Australia’s Cold War: Why Vladimir Putin is not Ready to Give Up on the Crimes of Repression and Destabilization in South East Asia
He told reporters that there are no preconditions for the meeting, adding that it is not in Australia’s interest to not have dialogue with major trading partners.
The South China Sea, Taiwan and South Pacific policies are at odds with Australia’s core interests according to John Lee, senior fellow at the Hudson Institute in Washington and former national security adviser to the Australian government.
The United States is still reeling from the attack on the US Capitol and President Joe Biden declared, “We’ve got to prove democracy works.” He predicted that future generations “are going to be doing their doctoral thesis on the issue of who succeeded: autocracy or democracy?”
Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky returned triumphantly to Kherson, the provincial capital that was taken over by Russian invaders, after he met with Biden and China’s president.
Putin, in particular, poses a grave threat. He’s all in, having painted himself into a corner. He is not about to give up in that country. While avoiding a direct clash with Putin, NATO has been careful in their support of Ukraine, but a drastic escalation by Russia remains one of the biggest dangers in the year ahead.
Tellingly, Putin chose not to attend the G20 summit in Bali, avoiding confrontations with world leaders as he increasingly becomes a pariah on the global stage.
The Kremlin vs. China: Rejoinding Russia in the Aftermath of the First Russian Referendum
To be sure, Biden is not the only leader with a strong hand. Xi has just secured an unprecedented third term as China’s leader, and he can now effectively rule for as long as he wants. He doesn’t have to worry about elections, about a critical press or a vociferous opposition party. He is essentially the absolute ruler of a mighty country for many years to come.
Also crucial in the epochal competition between the two systems is showing that democracy works, defeating efforts of autocratic countries such as China and Russia to discredit it and proving that unprovoked wars of aggression, aimed at suppressing democracy and conquering territory, will not succeed.
The Russians and Chinese will meet via video conference Friday, as the two countries look to shore up their relationship while China fights a new outbreak of Covid.
The two leaders will discuss bilateral relations between their countries, as well as discuss regional issues. The Kremlin’s spokesman was quoted as saying on Thursday.
Sitting with Raisi, Xi declared that China will strengthen cooperation with Iran, “no matter how international and regional situations change.” Still, recall the “no limits” pledge to Russia. It can be more difficult to prove a vow than it sounds.
But more than 10 months into the grinding war, the world looks much different – and the dynamic between both partners has shifted accordingly, experts say.
The likelihood of a Russian defeat is a bigger picture, as it did not win against an inferior adversary. Mouthpieces on state TV talked about the need to “take the gloves off” after Kharkiv, as if they would not be exposing a fist that had already withered. Revealed almost as a paper-tiger, the Russian military will struggle for decades to regain even a semblance of peer status with NATO. That is perhaps the wider damage for the Kremlin: the years of effort spent rebuilding Moscow’s reputation as a smart, asymmetrical foe with conventional forces to back it up have evaporated in about six months of mismanagement.
On Thursday, Russia launched one of the biggest missile attacks since the war began, causing destruction and killing at least 3 people in Ukrainian villages and cities.
Ukrainian officials have been cautioning for days that Russia is preparing to launch an all-out assault on the power grid to close out 2022, plummeting the country into darkness as Ukrainians attempt to ring in the New Year and celebrate the Christmas holidays, which for the country’s Orthodox Christians falls on January 7.
What Do We Need Now that Russia Has Done The War? A Comment on Putin, India, and Stimson Center Founders Frederick D. Wu
Alfred Wu said that, too, China is becoming more isolated in its stance towards Russia.
Though India has not condemned Moscow’s invasion outright, Modi told Putin in September that now was not the time for war and urged him to move toward peace.
“Now with domestic issues out of the way, Xi is in a better position to work on Russia,” said Stimson Center’s Sun, referring to his consolidation of power in October.
She said that the two leaders could assure each other of their pledges to cooperate economically because of the increase in trade between the two countries.
Protests, Covid outbreak, and economic toll, have put Xi in a more vulnerable position, that could mean less material and public support for Russia.
To those who felt that nuclear saber-rattling was an oxymoron, that the destruction they brought was complete, for everyone on the planet, and that you couldn’t casually threaten people with nukes as the destruction they brought was complete, it was true.
Despite this palpable Russian decline, Europe is not welcoming in an era of greater security. Even at a time when Russia is showing itself to be less threatening, calls for more defense spending are louder than ever.
Russia has also met a West that, far from being divided and reticent, was instead happy to send some of its munitions to its eastern border. Western officials might also be surprised that Russia’s red lines appear to shift constantly, as Moscow realizes how limited its non-nuclear options are. None of this was supposed to happen. So what do Europe have in place now that it has?
Some of the credit goes to Putin, whose imperialist ploy to conquer neighboring Ukraine struck like a thunderbolt. Freedom was no longer an ideal. No longer was the battle for democracy a metaphor. This was a real war with missiles, carnage and death.
It is premature to state that Russia has lost the war. There are variables which could still lead to a stalemate in its favor, or even a reversal of fortune. NATO could lose patience or nerve over weapons shipments and look for short-term economic gain instead of long-term security. At this moment, it seems unlikely.
If Moscow can’t supply diesel for tanks 40 miles from the border, how can it be certain The Button will work if Putin pushes it? Nuclear power is at greater risk of being revealed than its strategic missiles and ability to retaliate.
For over 70 years, the Russians and West held the world in the grip of mutually assured destruction. It was a peace based on fear. But fear of Moscow should be ebbing slowly, and with that comes the risk of miscalculation. It also raises a less chilling prospect: that Russia – like many autocracies before it – may be fading, undermined by its own clumsy dependence on fear domestically.
So, how does the West deal with a Russia that has experienced this colossal loss of face in Ukraine and is slowly withering economically because of sanctions? Is a weak Russia something to fear, or just weak? This is the known unknown the West must wrestle with. It is not as terrifying as it used to be.
America has done this before. During the Cuban Missile Crisis, the most dangerous nuclear confrontation so far, the Soviet Union’s position shifted in a matter of days, ultimately accepting an outcome that favored the West. Had “red lines” thinking been in vogue, America might well have accepted an inferior compromise that weakened its security and credibility.
Pursued firmly and repeatedly, these operations in support of Ukraine can ensure that Russia gets what the West wants with its least-bad option. It’s a different strategy to accept red lines. Revealingly, “red lines” is the mirror image of an earlier metaphor used at the start of the war. The idea was to give Mr. Putin a break to convince him to stop fighting. Russia is no longer strong, so the Western world needs to restrain him so he does not fight too recklessly.
The Covid Wave of the New Year’s Eve: China’s Progress on a Journey to Recovery from Zero XI CHINESE
As China faces more immediate strain from a spiraling outbreak that hashit factories and businesses, his New Year speech comes as the country faces a long and complicated road to economic recovery.
Large parts of the country face an unprecedented Covid wave due to the chaos unleashed by leader XI CHINESE’s abrupt and ill-prepared exit from zero- Covid.
After three years of isolating China due to the Covid outbreak, the country is poised to return to normal as the rest of the world learns to live with the virus.
In a nationally televised New Year’s Eve speech, the Chinese leader said they were entering a new phase of Covid response. Everyone is holding on with great strength, and the light of hope is in front of us. Let’s make an extra effort to pull through, as perseverance and solidarity mean victory.”
There was little preparation to handle the surge in cases after the lifting of restrictions last month.
The health system in our country is very fragile and it is hard to keep up with demand for medicine, hospitals are overwhelmed, doctors are stretched to their limit, crematoriums are unable to keep up, and so on.
And experts warn the worst is yet to come. While some major metropolises like Beijing may have seen the peak of the outbreak, less-developed cities and the vast rural hinterland are still bracing for more infections.
The outlook is not good. If China fails to roll out booster shots and other drugs fast enough, the death toll could be in excess of a million.
The government has launched a booster campaign for the elderly, but many remain reluctant to take it due to concerns about side effects. Fighting vaccine hesitancy will require significant time and effort, when the country’s medical workers are already stretched thin.
The China Effect During the December 26-26 Pandemic: Perspectives for China, the US, Russia, and the Emerging Cold War
China has a vital place in economies that rely on Chinese demand. There will be more international travel and production. There will be upward pressure on global inflation due to rising energy and raw material prices.
The economy will recover after March, according to experts. HSBC economists predicted a contraction of 0.5% in the first quarter, with 5% growth for the rest of the decade.
Chinese people are happy about the partial reopening of the border after the end of the international arrivals and outbound travel ban.
Though some residents voiced concern online about the rapid loosening of restrictions during the outbreak, many more are eagerly planning trips abroad – travel websites recorded massive spikes in traffic within minutes of the announcement on December 26.
Some countries have offered a warm welcome back, with foreign embassies and tourism departments posting invitations to Chinese travelers on Chinese social media sites. New testing requirements are imposed by many countries for travelers from China and its territories.
The risk of a new variant emerging from the China outbreak was pointed to by officials from these countries, though health experts warned that the targeting of travel restrictions could lead toracism and xenophobia.
As China emerges from its self-imposed isolation, all eyes are on whether it will be able to repair its reputation and relations that soured during the pandemic.
The freeze on in- person exchanges among policy advisers, business groups and the public was a result of the lack of top-level face-to-face diplomacy.
More high-level exchanges will be happening this year with the US Secretary of State, French President, Dutch Prime Minister, and Italy’s Prime Minister all expected to visit Beijing.
In the new year, there may be more tension over Taiwan, technological containment, as well as China’s support for Russia, which was discussed by both sides during a virtual meeting with Russian President Putin on December 30.
The Chinese state media IANS reports that the two countries need to strengthen strategic coordination andject more stability into the world.
“(The war) has been a nuisance for China this past year and has affected China’s interest in Europe,” said Yun Sun, director of the China Program at the Washington-based think tank Stimson Center. “But the damage is not significant enough that China will abandon Russia.”
Autocracy versus Democracy: How many Americans are afraid of the future of the world? An open question that should not be ruled by China or Iran
Notice that it was an open question. Many believed that autocracy would win, but the better system would prevail. How many believe that today?
How many believe Russia, China or Iran offer a better model than an open society with all its foibles and challenges? How many of you think the US would benefit from a more autocratic president?
The contest between autocracy and democracy is far from over, but the public display of its fatal flaws has reduced its appeal. They will make mistakes when you don’t know they’re wrong. The more powerful and ruthless the ruler, the higher the likelihood that no one dares challenge his wisdom, even if he leads his nation toward a cliff.
With the democracy headway just made, a poor showing by election deniers in the US mid-terms, an exodus of Russian from their own country, and an influx of support for Ukrainians, democratic leaders have to show they can navigate the economic challenges of the future. All the while, they will face the continuing efforts of ambitious autocrats such as Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese leader Xi Jinping to regain the upper hand.
The autocracy brothers were trying to let the world know that their system was better than anything else. For 16 consecutive years, according to the non-partisan democracy monitor Freedom House, democracy was losing ground. The organization said that only a small percentage of the population lived in Free countries.
The world’s strongmen struggled, but self-assured “geniuses” like Musk revealed their own flaws, and the people were tired of decades of tyranny and demanded change.
Women, Life and Freedom in the era of NATO: How far will they go? How will the regime snout the rest of the world?
NATO was strengthened by the invasion in a way that hadn’t been seen before. The countries that had always cherished their neutrality, like Sweden and Finland, wanted to join.
Activists of the ” Women, Life, Freedom” group are not expected to ignore the regime and its brutality. How far will they go? How far will the regime try to snuff them out? How will the rest of the world respond?
The Legal Problems of Trump, Bolsonaro, Macron and the Russian Implications for the Stability of the United States and the Inheritance of Algebra
Former President Donald Trump launched a new presidential campaign. It was what the British called a “damp squib,” a lead balloon. After many of his top choices failed in the November elections, he is becoming an increasingly isolated figure. The new House Speaker seemed unable to quell the rebellion this week even after his calls for Republicans to unite behind him. And while the struggle over the speakership may have seemed dysfunctional, it was democracy, in all its messy wrangling, on display. And of course, Trump’s legal troubles seem endless.
In Brazil, Trump’s doppelganger, Jair Bolsonaro, lost his bid for reelection. Like Trump, he refused to admit defeat or attend the inauguration of the man who defeated him, President Luiz Inácio “Lula” da Silva. Instead, a grim Bolsonaro decamped to Florida.
Boris Johnson lost the premiership in the UK and after an embarrassing encounter with Liz Truss was replaced by a non-populist centrist. When Johnson led his country out of the European Union, populists wanted their own version. We do not hear that anymore. French President Emmanuel Macron defeated his populist opponent, Marine Le Pen who, like other European populists, had to run from her record of closeness to Putin.
In February of last year, Russian President Vladimir Putin stood next to his Chinese counterpart as he smiled for the camera. Putin was still denying plans to invade Ukraine, which he would do just after the end of the Beijing Winter Olympics.
In addition to fortifying NATO and strengthening alliances, which President Joe Biden’s administration has accomplished with great success, the US must aim to forestall the creation of a credible, unified force of aggressive antidemocratic regimes.
The rule of the strongest isn’t good for you when you can’t win.
According to US intelligence, Russia has bought artillery shells from North Korea, another notorious dictatorship, which denies its involvement in a war whose morality is beyond the pale.
Beijing-Tehran Relations infuriated: Comments on a December 31 High-Energy Airshow with Xi
Beijing has a complicated relationship with Tehran. In December, when Xi visited Iran-foe Saudi Arabia, a joint statement after meeting with Saudi officials noted Iran’s “destabilizing regional activities” and “support for terrorist and sectarian groups,” infuriating Iran.
The Beijing-Tehran ties have raised alarms among both Democrats and Republicans in Congress, who fear China’s support could help Tehran evade sanctions related to its nuclear and conventional weapons programs, support for terrorism and human rights abuses.