By Chris Fry
After the November 15 meeting in San Francisco between President Xi Jinping of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) and President Biden, the New York Times, flagship newspaper of U.S. imperialism, was triumphant. Its headline read: “For Biden, a Subtle Shift in Power Balance with Xi Jinping ”. Its subtitle was even more explicit: “For the first time in years, a Chinese leader desperately needed a few things from the United States.”
The article described the “concessions” made by Xi around the fentanyl supply question and military communications, and, after discussing the various preliminary meetings between U.S. and Chinese officials, described the lavish setting for the talks:
It was all intended to culminate in the meeting between Mr. Biden and Mr. Xi, which lasted for four hours on Wednesday at the Filoli mansion and gardens, a popular hiking, dining and wedding destination that suddenly became the playing field for the greatest geopolitical competition on earth.
But a more sober analysis emerged in an article in the Foreign Policy magazine November 30 article titled: “Why Xi Thinks He Got the Better of Biden.”
Many observers wondered why Biden publicly labeled Xi as a “dictator” just after the meeting. This article provides an answer: the January 13, 2024 presidential and legislature elections in Taiwan..
For Xi, reinforcing China’s red lines on Taiwan to Biden face-to-face was therefore a central objective. And while Biden ruffled Chinese feathers in San Francisco by calling Xi a dictator, he crucially did not repeat his promise to defend Taiwan. Beijing, which never rules out the option of invading the island if it refuses to “reunify” voluntarily, will have been pleased by what it is likely to view as Biden’s backing down.
During their meeting Biden lectured President Xi about “not interfering” with the “democratic” elections in Taiwan occurring on January 13. But coinciding with the meeting was the surprise announcement in Taiwan that the two main opposition parties, the Kuomintang (KMT) and the Taiwan People’s Party (TPP) agreed to hold talks to have a single candidate running on a platform of renewing friendly relations with the PRC.
Recent polls had indicated that the combined vote of the two parties heavily outnumbered that of the “pro-independence” ruling party, the Democratic Progressive Party.
As described in a November 30 piece by the Japanese news website Nikkei Asia, Biden decided to do his own Taiwan election interference with the “dictator” label for Xi, signaling that the U.S. will not tolerate any thaw in relations between China and the leadership of Taiwan. Taiwan, Biden is implying, must remain the lynchpin of U.S. economic warfare and military provocations against socialist China, no matter the cost to its residents, who can clearly see the terrible damage and suffering caused by the U.S. proxy war in Ukraine and now in Gaza.
It should be noted that the PRC’s constitution does indeed speak of a “dictatorship”, with its preamble describing the government as a “dictatorship of the workers”. Of course, this differs from the class character of the government of the U.S., which is the “dictatorship of the bourgeoisie,” i.e. of the billionaire class. Calling itself a “democracy” does not change that fact.
Nine days after Biden’s smear, negotiations between the KMT and the TPP broke down, as each party registered their own candidates in the upcoming elections.
But from that same Nikkei Asia article, it appears that Biden’s divisive election interference strategy is backfiring in Taiwan:
Meanwhile, the collapse of the coalition has given rise to a strange phenomenon. Opinion polls show that support for the KMT’s Hou is gaining on that for the ruling DPP’s Lai, with the TPP’s Ko lagging both.
Hou, who had been low-key, is receiving increased media attention, and original KMT supporters are returning to the fold.
Hou gained another advantage when a wild card candidate withdrew from the race. Terry Gou, the founder of Taiwan’s Hon Hai Precision Industry, also known as Foxconn, had been planning to run.
Gou belongs to an offshoot of the KMT, and some observers say Gou’s supporters are now backing Hou.
Of course, the status of Taiwan, as part of “one China”, can only be changed by a decision of the people of all of China, not just the residents of Taiwan. The outcome of Taiwan’s election does not change this. But negotiations, not a U.S.-sponsored proxy war, is the best path forward towards unification and a prosperous outcome for all.