It may not be as humiliating a snub as when China made Obama exit through the ass-end of Air Force One, but it could be a lot more dangerous for regional stability.
Biden had a long Zoom call with Xi this week. Several hours long. If you’re curious as to who has the upper hand in this relationship, you might find a clue in the fact that the phone call was scheduled for the beginning of Xi’s workday, and after supper in Washington, DC.
Biden Admin’s Earlier Diplomatic Failure
As bad as Blinken’s Afghanistan failure was, it wasn’t the first time he had crapped the bed this year. He doesn’t think we’ve already forgotten about that little meeting with his Chinese counterparts in Alaska, does he?
That sorry episode went almost as badly as John Cena’s promotion of that Fast & Furious film.
Taiwan, The Elephant In the Room
China has been sending very clear signals that Xi’s intentions of annexing Taiwan against their will is a question of when, not if. Among those clear signals is the differences found in the official July 1 speech Xi gave to his Chinese audience compared to how it was (mis)translated to the world.
Memri highlighted some of the serious discrepancies between the rah-rah nationalist message and the toned-down ‘official’ translation for foreign audiences. One example is as follows:
We must take resolute action to smash any attempt toward “Taiwan independence,” and work together to create a bright future for national rejuvenation. No one should underestimate the firm resolve, the strong will, and the formidable capacity of the Chinese people to defend their national sovereignty and territorial integrity.” —Memri
There is some dispute about exactly what was said about Taiwan, and who made the stronger statements. But it’s hard to point to Biden’s success if he spends the time following his Zoom call ‘clarifying’ what he said in the meeting.
Speaking to reporters in New Hampshire on Tuesday, Biden said Taiwan “makes its own decisions,” and that the self-governing island is “independent.”
Hours later, Biden waded back into the issue, saying “we are not encouraging independence” and emphasizing again that historic U.S. policy toward the island democracy remains in place.
China’s News Is Framing The Issue In Ways You Might Expect
Chinese papers need to be taken with a grain of salt, but made the following statement.
Zhou Chenming, a researcher from the Yuan Wang military science and technology institute in Beijing, said that “there is still a lack of mutual trust between China and the US,” and the rest of the world should not expect a breakthrough.
“Mutual trust needs to be built through some big and small things,” said Zhou, who identified Taiwan as the key problem.
“For example, recent visits by American lawmakers to Taiwan on US military aircraft were all seen by Beijing as provocative moves to challenge its red lines.” —SouthChinaMorningPost
Did Biden’s Conversation Get Xi To Back Off Of Invading Taiwan’s Airspace?
That’s a question of definition. Strictly speaking there wasn’t another incursion into their airspace. But what they DID do wasn’t any less ominous.
No fewer than five Chinese military surveillance planes skirted Taiwan’s air space southwest of the island country on Tuesday.
The rare surge of electronic- and signals-intelligence and airborne-early-warning planes—together representing around 15 percent of China’s inventory of specialized surveillance aircraft—underscores the importance to Beijing of accurate intel in the event the Chinese Communist Party makes good on its threats to “reunify” Taiwan with China. —Forbes
Taiwan Has Just Announced It Is Bulking Up Its Airforce
The Taiwanese air force and plane builder Aerospace Industrial Development Corporation (AIDC) have signed a NT$110 billion (US$4 billion) contract with Lockheed Martin to upgrade the air force’s 141 F-16A/B jets to F-16Vs.
According to the air force, AIDC and Lockheed Martin have so far completed the upgrading of 64 jets. Tsai said the upgrade was a step forward for the island’s aerospace technology and defence industry.
…In addition to the ongoing retrofitting, the air force has ordered 66 new F-16Vs, which have new avionics, weapons and radar systems to bolster their ability to repel the People’s Liberation Army Air Force, including its J-20 stealth fighter. Delivery of the jets, worth US$8 billion, is expected to start in 2023, with the last batch to be sent to Taiwan in 2026.
Remember how Reagan demonstrated his policy of ‘Peace Through Strength’?
Biden is channeling his inner Neville Chamberlain and showing us the opposite policy.
Heaven help us.