Melissa Harris-Perry: On Monday, President Joe Biden met with Chinese leader Xi Jinping ahead of the G-20 summit in Indonesia. This was their first face-to-face meeting since Biden was elected, and the meeting comes at a rocky point in US-China relations, but the President had to quell some concerns about just how tense this moment is.
President Joe Biden: "I absolutely believe there need not be a new Cold War."
Melissa Harris-Perry: I'm joined now by Gordon Chang, author of The Coming Collapse of China and The Great U.S.-China Tech War. Gordon, welcome to The Takeaway.
Gordon Chang: Well, thank you, Melissa.
Melissa Harris-Perry: It's always lovely to talk with you. What's your take on how Monday's meeting went?
Gordon Chang: I actually think the meeting should not have occurred in the first place, and my great concern is dialogue is not leading to good results. Yesterday, President Biden announced that there would be a working groups between Chinese and American officials on a number of issues. We have gone down this path before. While we talk with China, China continues unacceptable conduct, and we do not impose costs. Although it sounds like this approach should work, Americans love dialogue. The problem is that at least for three decades, this is not achieved what we had hoped and has led to some disastrous and sometimes near-disastrous situations.
Melissa Harris-Perry: Look, obviously, the meeting was long planned, but the President did end up going in in a position of relatively greater strength than he might have initially imagined would be true, given the results of the midterm election. Does that make any difference? I hear you with a little bit of a critique of the bilateral dialogue there, but was it a bit of a victory lap, show of strength of democracy?
Gordon Chang: President Biden went in strong for two reasons. First of all, from a partisan point of view, the Democrats did far better than anybody expected. Second of all, as you point out, this really is a victory for democracy in general. We, Americans, we don't understand the inspirational impact of democracy on the Chinese people, but the Communist Party does, and the Communist Party is deathly afraid of that impact that we have, and we have seen especially today, but over the last three or four days, unrelenting propaganda from Beijing about democracy. That shows you that President Biden hit a nerve when he talked about democracy in the G-20 summit.
Melissa Harris-Perry: Speaking of which, let's talk about Taiwan. What was said, anything?
Gordon Chang: It was the number one topic. We've got to remember that this is a zero-sum contest because Xi Jinping has made it a matter of personal legitimacy that he will be the one to annex Taiwan. Taiwan is by all accounts, and you look at it, has all the attributes of an independent country. It's a vibrant democracy, it's a healthy economy, and it's vital to the free world from any number of different perspectives.
President Biden said that the United States was opposed to any change in the status or unilateral change in the status of Taiwan. That was the right thing to say the issue is whether the Chinese believed that the United States will protect Taiwan, and that could be the critical issue going forward.
Melissa Harris-Perry: One of the other critical issues is the issue of intellectual property, and Chinese state action around that issue. Was that on the agenda?
Gordon Chang: That was on the agenda in addition with trade issues. We forget that the Section 301 tariffs that President Trump imposed in 2018 are supposed to be a remedy for the theft of US intellectual property. We don't know how much China steals every year, but it's in the hundreds of billions of dollars a year. Obviously, this is a grievous wound. The tariffs have not made much of an impact on China's theft of US IP. We need to do far more. Unfortunately, though, you don't see in either political party the steps that are necessary to protect our future.
Melissa Harris-Perry: Now, Biden was sort of on his way to G-20, but coming out of COP27, China and the US are the two largest economies and also the two largest greenhouse gas emitters. Any conversation about, not only climate negotiations, but specifically the loss and damages sort of reparative fund that has been on the table at COP27?
Gordon Chang: President Biden said that the United States would contribute to that, and he pressured China to also contribute to climate remediation efforts. Beijing, I suspect, will have to chip in. Also got to remember that at the G-20 itself, just a few hours ago, President Biden announced a $20 billion finance deal on climate change for Indonesia. Indonesia being one of the larger countries in the world, one that we often forget. That is a sign that the President is willing to put money on the line. The question is if there is a control in the House, whether Republicans will fund a climate fund.
Melissa Harris-Perry: Gordon, as you talked about Beijing's interest in annexing Taiwan, let's talk about where China stands right now on Russia's war on Ukraine.
Gordon Chang: China has been the biggest supporter of Russia. It's not only elevated commodity purchases which have effectively finance the war. We have seen China open its financial system to Russian institutions that have been sanctioned. China's put its diplomats in service of Russia. China's Communist Party and central government media outlets have propagated Russian disinformation, and China has been supplying military assistance. The Biden administration keeps on warning China about this. China keeps ignoring warnings. I don't know where this is going, but this is a test of will.
Melissa, this affects not just Ukraine, because Xi Jinping's assessment of Biden's willingness to effectively deal with China's assistance to Russia will affect Xi Jinping's view of whether the United States will resist an attempt to forcibly annex Taiwan.
Melissa Harris-Perry: Gordon Chang, it is always a pleasure to have you. Gordon is author of The Coming Collapse of China and The Great U.S.-China Tech War. Gordon promised to come back again soon.
Gordon Chang: I promise, and thank you so much, Melissa.
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