Tuesday (November 16th): Biden’s Best Frenemy

Joe Biden
Joe Biden

Name? Joe Biden

Westphalian identity? United States American

Age? 78

Why is he in the news? President Biden concluded his first virtual summit with Xi Jinping yesterday in which the two discussed many tensions in their personal and country-level relationship. The future of Taiwan, human rights in Xinjiang, cybersecurity and the trade war between the two superpowers dominated their conversation.

Why do we care? Because no relationship is shaping the planet as much as Biden and Xi’s. That said, we would be naive to think that just because Biden and Xi referred to one another as “my old friend,” all is suddenly well between their respective countries. If nothing else, this summit proves that the President is done pretending to be friends with Xi’s China and is ready to compete.

Why should you care? As we mentioned last week, further escalation into physical conflict between Biden and Xi would be catastrophic for the rest of the world. And while this remains unlikely, China’s increasing military capabilities could give the country the capacity to attack Taiwan by 2027, according to a Pentagon report. So once again, you should care 4/10 about the potential change of the status quo in the Taiwan Strait resting on Biden’s shoulders.

Who else cares? Biden’s Quad counterparts in Australia, India and Japan. As the U.S. attempts to maintain it’s stance of “strategic ambiguity” on Taiwan and China warns that any change in this strategy would be “like playing with fire,” Quad leaders are increasingly concerned about an uncontrollable fire in the Taiwan Strait or the South China Sea…both scenarios that would demand action from the Quad as it aims to “advance peace and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific.” 

Any further comments? If you’re wondering why once again we’re discussing Biden and Xi’s relationship when there’s more going on in the world, Secretary of State Blinken said it best: “…the biggest geopolitical test of the 21st century [is]: our relationship with China.”

Sarah McFadden

General Coordinator