Pawtucket Times

Biden has a strong hand to play at his summit with Xi

- The Washington Post

The surprising­ly good showing for President Biden’s party in the midterm elections means Mr. Biden will have the domestic political wind at his back when he meets Monday with Chinese Communist Party leader Xi Jinping in Bali. Mr. Xi arrives with newly enhanced domestic standing, too, though his comes

from the recent Communist Party congress’s orchestrat­ed approval of his third five-year term in its top position – not a free election. Mr. Biden should not shy away from calling Mr. Xi’s attention to this contrast in what will be their first face-to-face meeting of his presidency. He could suggest that China might want to rewrite some of its propaganda about the dysfunctio­n of U.S. democracy, now that so many participan­ts in a free and fair vote have repudiated pro-Donald Trump Republican election deniers at the ballot box.

Bitter as the just-concluded campaign was, one thing Republican­s and Democrats more or less agree on is the need for a more competitiv­e stance toward China, geopolitic­ally and economical­ly. During the campaign, Democrats touted a legislativ­e achievemen­t aimed at thwarting China’s plans to dominate semiconduc­tor manufactur­ing: the bipartisan Chips and Science Act, which provides tens of billions of dollars for domestic semiconduc­tor manufactur­ing, on the condition that recipients don’t expand production in China. The bill has tens of billions more for basic research. And the Commerce Department recently announced limits on China’s access to chips and components for supercompu­ters, many of which Washington believes have applicatio­ns for weaponry, a significan­t ratcheting up of the U.S. response to China’s more aggressive military posture toward Taiwan.

We question whether the Chips and Science Act is optimal policy. Research and education should boost competitiv­eness, but subsidizin­g selected domestic industries is more China’s style than the United States’. Neverthele­ss, together with the new restrictio­ns on high-tech exports, these policies enjoy broad domestic support and constitute leverage for Mr. Biden in dealing with Mr. Xi on Monday – and subsequent­ly. Also strengthen­ing the president’s hand is the fact that the United States, though hardly free of inflation or recession risk, seems buoyant relative to the rest of the world, including China. The People’s Republic remains stalled in large part because of Mr. Xi’s own mistaken and disruptive “zero-covid” policy. Beijing announced incrementa­l relaxation of the unpopular measures Friday. But officials gave no hint of unwinding it more broadly; it would be difficult to do so, because the virus has been spreading within China despite draconian measures, while a significan­t portion of the elderly population remains unvaccinat­ed.

Russia’s surrender of Kherson, a key city in a province of Ukraine that Russian President Vladimir Putin had purported to annex six weeks ago, shows how mistaken Mr. Xi was to steer China into a “no limits” relationsh­ip with Moscow, or to suppose that a declining West would fail to stand up to territoria­l aggression.

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