Barely have their summit ended, Joe Biden and Xi Jinping resume their competition

After his meeting with Xi Jinping on Wednesday, Joe Biden made a point of reassuring his Asia-Pacific allies on Thursday, during the Apec summit in San Francisco. The American president promised that his country would remain a reliable economic partner. For his part, his Chinese counterpart praised the attractions of the second world power for foreign investors.

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One is struggling to attract Asian countries into the American fold, the other praises China as a land of investments: after a summit supposed to lay the foundations for a controlled but fierce competition, Joe Biden and Xi Jinping moved to the action.

“We are here to stay,” the American president said on Thursday, November 16, during his inaugural speech to leaders and bosses gathered in San Francisco for an Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) summit.

He recounted his long meeting the day before in the Californian hills with his Chinese counterpart, the first after twelve months of strong tensions. Xi “asked me why we are so involved in the Pacific,” Joe Biden reported. “I told him, ‘It’s because we are a Pacific nation. Thanks to us, there is peace and security in the region, and therefore growth.'”

Faced with China, the United States is seeking to strengthen its alliances with the 21 Apec countries, which together account for 60% of the world economy.

Xi Jinping saw Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador and Peruvian President Dina Boluarte on Thursday, reminding the United States that China has massively invested in an area formerly under American influence, as part of its gigantic development program. infrastructure around the world, the “New Silk Roads”.

The Chinese president, faced with economic bumps, came to San Francisco to praise the attractions of the second world power, in the face of foreign investors, some of whom were more hesitant. Wednesday evening, during a dinner with many big American bosses, the room stood up to welcome Xi Jinping and applauded his speech several times. “China remains the most powerful engine of global growth,” the Chinese leader also declared Thursday, in a speech written for the Apec CEO summit.

American ambitions revised downwards

Beijing noted that the United States, for its part, had to scale back its great ambitions for economic partnership in Asia. Joe Biden certainly assured Thursday that “tangible commitments were negotiated in record time” for a trade pact with 13 other countries in the region, including Japan, India, Australia, South Korea and a large part of Southeast Asia, excluding China.

Joe Biden at a dinner with Apec leaders on November 15, 2023 in San Francisco, California. © Brendan Smialowski, AFP

The Indo-Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF), which does not offer market access, was launched last year by Washington to show Beijing. In practice, if the discussions on supply chains, the energy transition and the fight against corruption have largely succeeded, the project stumbles on the commercial aspect, due to a controversy within the Democratic Party over standards. of work.

Far from any ambition for free trade, a principle that the Biden administration claims to have buried, IPEF must lead to the adoption of common standards in several areas, such as labor law and the environment, to facilitate trade commercial. “No one will be left behind,” promised Thursday the Democratic president, who will seek a second term in just under a year. The progress of the week will allow IPEF to “create a race upwards and not downwards”.

US President Joe Biden (R) and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping meet during the Apec summit at Woodside on November 15, 2023 in California.
US President Joe Biden (R) and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping meet during the Apec summit at Woodside on November 15, 2023 in California. © Brendan Smialowski, AFP

Joe Biden especially does not want to offend the unions, whose electoral support he hopes for 2024. “Why do many of you (business owners) employ unionized workers? Because they are the best in the world,” he said. -he throws.

In this atmosphere of merciless economic, technological and strategic competition, it is difficult to say whether the thaw observed on Wednesday during the summit of Joe Biden and Xi Jinping will last. In any case, the meeting, at the very least, made it possible to relaunch “panda diplomacy”. Xi Jinping has suggested that he could soon send a few envoys with black and white fur to the United States, after the recent departure of the three giant pandas from the Washington zoo, undisputed favorites of the public.

With AFP

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