Ryan Hass - Mentions and Appearances
Beijing will want to visibly register its displeasure, lest its leaders be accused at home of tolerating Taiwan’s efforts to move further away from China. At the same time, Beijing also will want to preserve some headroom for further escalation should future circumstances require.
When forced to choose, [China] will prioritize their domestic audience over external audiences, above all, though, I sense that the Chinese are eager to move on. They would like to put the spy balloon issue behind them without appearing to offer any concessions in the process.
The news cycle will move on [from tense recent episodes], and the same challenges in the relationship will remain. Both [Chinese and American] leaders recognize the need to manage risk through direct, hard-nosed diplomacy.
China has a strategic dilemma. They’re frustrated by the status quo, and they’re probing for ways to change it. But taking big, bold actions would come at an extraordinary cost to them. You can’t eliminate the possibility that they would be willing to pay that cost, and so we have to be prepared for it. But if you accept the proposition that war is inevitable, and we must do everything we possibly can to prepare for it now, then you risk precipitating the very outcome that your strategy is designed to prevent.
Both leaders held their ground on key issues without offering concessions in either direction. Even so, Biden and Xi clearly set a tone for their respective governments that tensions must be managed and that neither side seeks unbridled confrontation with the other.
The most valuable commodity in Washington is the president’s time, the more the administration demonstrates capacity to marshal tangible support for meeting the region’s key economic, health, and climate priorities, the more influence the U.S. will gain in the [Indo-Pacific] region.
Neither [President Biden or President Xi] will want to be seen as softening his approach toward the other, but at the same time, neither leader will see profit in allowing the relationship to escalate significantly beyond current levels of tension. As such, the relationship likely will navigate between a pretty firm floor and ceiling over the coming year.
The crux of [America's China] strategy is to advance interests, uphold values, and strengthen cohesion with allies and partners. One hopes that the Biden administration will be able to move discussion from questions of toughness to measures of effectiveness in delivering tangible results.
I don’t think it came as any surprise to Beijing that the Biden administration would prioritize efforts to repair alliance relationships, but the speed and the substance at which these efforts are moving forward, I think, has exceeded Beijing’s expectations.
Under Xi, China appears to have adopted the mantra that it is better to be feared than liked. China is committed to sending a message that it will not take a punch without throwing a counterpunch.