This Biden trip to Europe is a historic and momentous event. This event marked the acceptance by the entire Western camp, of the core proposition of Biden’s foreign policy, which is a concerted response, under U.S. leadership, to the greatest, and most pressing, challenge to the world order – the threat to global stability posed by China under Xi Jinping. Judging from the details of the G7 communiqué and meeting, Biden’s efforts to persuade his allies were highly successful, and it was none other than Xi Jinping himself who gave Biden the most help in his success.
The most dramatic detail revealed at the G7 summit was the extraordinary measure of disconnecting the Internet during the summit’s discussion of China to prevent the Chinese Communist Party’s omnipresent cyber-secrecy. This detail will undoubtedly stimulate many to imagine what highly classified content was discussed by the heads of Western countries during this process. My speculation is that Biden used this rare face-to-face opportunity to share top-secret U.S. intelligence on China. It is easier to imagine that the intelligence shared would have included evidence of a virus leaked by the Wuhan virus and evidence of persecution of the Uighurs in Xinjiang, but I believe that the most powerful intelligence Biden used to convince Western heads of state was precisely the content and details of his phone call with Xi Jinping.
What exactly did Xi say and what kind of psychological and mental state did he display to Biden during that two-hour-long one-on-one conversation? This is the most valuable intelligence for Western leaders to understand the seriousness and urgency of the threat to world order in China under Xi Jinping, and there is no more powerful way to share this intelligence with Western heads than to have Biden himself speak up. In fact, I think Xi’s call with Biden has had a far greater impact on Biden’s entire domestic and foreign policy than outsiders can imagine.
What has been most surprising about Biden since he took office is the dramatic contrast between his China policy and that of his campaign. Biden’s toughness toward Xi Jinping is now not only different from that of his campaign, but even greater than that of Trump. My understanding of the reason for this is that the wealth of intelligence he has received since taking office has caused a dramatic shift in his perception of the danger of Xi Jinping, especially the urgency of the Chinese threat. Like many people who have dealt with Xi, the Xi that Biden saw in this top secret intelligence seemed like a completely different person. And Biden’s one-on-one calls with Xi since he took power have made it impossible for him to use his past impressions to question the intelligence agencies’ grim judgment of the Chinese threat. Given Biden’s depth of experience in the world, it is not difficult for him to understand the serious political and historical responsibility he would bear if he made a major miscalculation or poor decision about the dangers facing the United States and the world.
There are three main reasons why it will not be easy for Biden to get major Western leaders to accept his grim judgment of Xi Jinping: first, it will be questioned that Biden’s dramatic change in attitude toward China has too many self-serving motives, that is, in the face of a serious internal crisis, Biden needs to create a more powerful enemy. unfavorable; third, Biden is old and will the future U.S. leader change his mind. Judging from the consensus issued at the G7 and NATO summits, it is significant that Biden succeeded in resolving the above-mentioned doubts of the allied leaders, recognizing not only the seriousness of Xi’s threat but also its urgency. Indeed, without this common understanding, it would have been difficult for the United States and its allies to take unprecedented collective action on the Belt and Road issue as well. Donating vaccines to poor countries to control a virus epidemic in China is a relatively easy decision to agree on, but working together against Xi’s Belt and Road will require not only a higher level of consensus but also a more politically difficult commitment. But it is exactly what Biden desperately needs to push for massive U.S. infrastructure.
Will Biden’s historic European trip be effective in curbing the Chinese threat? It is too early to tell, but it is certain that Xi Jinping helped establish a positive historical image and status for Biden.