US-China meeting a chance to ‘reset’ ties even as Xi Jinping’s third term poses challenges ahead: Hillary Clinton


Former US secretary of state Hillary Clinton is hoping that Chinese President Xi Jinping will see it in China’s interest to “dig in” with US President Joe Biden at their meeting in California next week to find ways to cooperate on issues such as climate change.

Speaking via video link during the Bloomberg New Economy Forum in Singapore, Clinton said Xi would find in Biden “a receptive partner” and the meeting would be a chance for the two superpowers to “reset the table”.

Describing Xi as someone with a very different leadership style to previous Chinese leaders she had dealt with when she was secretary of state, Clinton said how the two countries would get along depended on Xi’s goals. Clinton served in the post under Barack Obama during his first term as president, until 2012.
Former US secretary of state Hillary Clinton (right) and then Chinese president Hu Jintao meet in Beijing on May 3, 2012. Photo: AFP
“Part of the reason things were somewhat more positive when I was there – and we had a very regular set of meetings – was because Hu Jintao was a Chinese leader who decided he would not stay for life,” she said. “So there would be a constant renewing of both the Chinese government, and through that, the American relationship.

“Once Xi decides to stay in office for life, that creates a lot of challenges within their own system. And I think we’re seeing some of that with the removal of top officials … how do you deal with somebody who’s not going to be held accountable?” Clinton, said, referring to Xi’s decision earlier this year to continue in office for an unprecedented third term.

The Xi-Biden meeting would build confidence amid frosty relations, but it would need to be followed up with further dialogue, she said.

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During earlier discussions at the conference, other world leaders expressed concerns over the tense relations between the United States and China.

On Tuesday, Singapore’s Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan flagged concerns over rising tensions between Washington and Beijing over Taiwan and the South China Sea.

US business leaders also see a need for not just more dealings and trade between the two nations, but healthy competition, the conference heard.

While there were concerns that China’s access to goods and technology, such as advanced semiconductors, could result in a more forceful Chinese military build-up, severing trade with China would not keep the US ahead, said Ken Griffin, the founder of multinational hedge fund Citadel.
“If we can just snap our fingers and sever ties with China, do you think we are really going to come out ahead? I think they are 1.4 billion people who are going to prove to us that we were wrong,” he said, adding that China led in 37 of 44 developing technologies in the world.

“Rather, the US’ strategy should be how do we become better at being a competitor? How do we strengthen American business and American innovation to beat the Chinese on a global stage?”

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Cutting off China to goods such as semiconductor chips through policies such as the Chips Act, instead of competing healthily, was only going to inspire China to “double down” on ramping up its research and development, Griffin said at the conference.

“If we are going to withhold but not put our house in order, that’s a huge mistake because once they catch us, they’re going to lap us,” he added.

Griffin said where necessary, the US should continue to trade with China, but they must be tied to a set of domestic policies that “create long-term American competitiveness”.

“And we haven’t done the second part of the equation,” he said.


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