The pictures from the first face-to-face meeting between US President Biden and China’s head of state Xi exude confidence. But this has often led to dangerously wrong conclusions in the history of the two countries.

They met in person for the first time since US President Joe Biden took office: a long handshake between him and China’s ruler Xi Jinping before the start of the official G20 consultations. Both come to Bali strengthened: one has just secured a third term as President of the People’s Republic, the other at least did not lose the mid-term elections in the way commentators had predicted.

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The election results from the United States, insofar as they can be correctly interpreted in a non-free country like the People’s Republic, make Donald Trump’s return as US President less likely. For Beijing, despite all the points of contention, Biden stands for reliable politics. Xi and he have known each other since they were both before the highest office in the state.

The greeting between the two gentlemen therefore seemed warm, and after the three-hour conversation, both sides stated that it had been a productive meeting. Hot irons have not been excluded. It is always better to speak than to refuse any form of communication.

Since there is no openness without honesty, it must not be concealed that the USA and China have repeatedly been at such a productive point where common interests were placed above points of conflict, most recently at the climate summit in Glasgow, Scotland in 2021. But things got worse after that the relationship between the two countries to each other again rapidly. Before the meeting of the two heads of state in Bali, observers therefore noted a historic low in American-Chinese relations.

Above all, the question of Taiwan’s future cannot be answered at such summits or meetings like the one that Federal Chancellor Olaf Scholz had in Beijing at the beginning of November. Because it is completely irrelevant whether Beijing believes that Taiwan is part of its territory, nor whether the United States is prepared to defend the status quo, the de facto independence of Taiwan. As long as Taiwan isn’t at the table, everything else is just imperialism driven by Xi’s lust for power. However, the man from Beijing is not thinking of a conversation at eye level.

The situation with Taiwan and China is the same as with Russia’s war against Ukraine. Russia and China are aggressors, Ukraine and Taiwan are small countries they want to usurp. That was the reason why Beijing could not bring itself to condemn the Russian invasion.

The fact that US President Biden has now managed in Bali to persuade ruler Xi once again to condemn a nuclear escalation triggered by his intimate friend Vladimir can therefore be seen as a points victory for diplomacy. The Chinese President was able to go along with this because such an understanding with the United States makes Xi Jinping appear, both at home and on the world stage, as a conciliatory leader, which he really is not.

An example: China’s Prime Minister Li Keqiang said during Olaf Scholz’s visit that the People’s Republic is continuing to focus on economic reform and modernization. However, Xi Jinping mentions these two words, which have been important and frequently used since the era of Deng Xiao-ping, in his eagerly awaited speech on the XXth. Party congress in mid-October. The focus was on the terms “security” and “war”, at least if one assumes the frequency with which these terms were used, unlike in previous speeches, as an indicator of their importance for current Chinese politics.

In the time before his meeting with US President Biden, Xi Jinping also called on the Chinese military to prepare for battle and prepared the country for hard times. The nuclear power China also has immense influence on the regime in North Korea, which keeps the region, South Korea and Japan in suspense with missile tests and ties the attention of the USA, which is the most important military partner of both countries. While North Korea militarily threatens Japan and South Korea, Xi’s forces are operating around Taiwan. In the summer, the island was briefly blocked.

This should make it clear to Taipei that China has the upper hand. And indeed: In the event of a real, long-lasting blockade, the island democracy would only have gas in its storage facilities for two weeks. After that, the lights would go out everywhere in the country. North Korea fulfills Putin’s liaison with the Belarusian dictatorship Lukashenko for Xi Jinping in this strategy game (through his and Kim Jong-un’s drives he keeps the northern western Pacific region in check). Chinese weapons are said to have ended up in Ukraine via North Korea.

The “good pictures”, as journalists call them, of the meeting between the two gentlemen cannot hide the fact that there are still massive differences between the USA and China when it comes to human rights: the inhumane treatment of the Uyghurs in the Xinjiang province , the harassment of the Mongolian minority in Inner Mongolia, the complaints of the people in occupied Tibet, the shattered freedoms of Hong Kong, the imprisoned residents of Shanghai, all of these are internal matters for Xi, in which no one should interfere. Human rights, however, are never a private matter . As long as the People’s Republic does not change course here, it will remain an unjust state with which there can be no normal relationship.

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