[Editor’s note: Make sure to read Joseph Klein’s masterpiece contributions in Jamie Glazov’s new book: Barack Obama’s True Legacy: How He Transformed America.]
Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken traveled to China this past weekend for meetings with senior Chinese officials, months after canceling his trip there in the wake of the Chinese spy balloon encroachment of U.S. airspace. He met with Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang for hours, followed by a meeting with China’s top diplomat, Wang Yi. It was uncertain whether China’s President Xi Jinping would agree to give an audience to Secretary Blinken until, with about 45 minutes notice, Xi and Blinken ended up meeting for about a half hour.
Secretary Blinken conveyed the same message in person to China’s leadership that the Biden administration has been uttering for months. Keep the channels of communication open “to ensure competition does not veer into conflict,” Blinken told Wang Yi.
China’s message during Secretary Blinken’s visit was also the same as its leaders have uttered many times before. According to China’s view of why tensions between China and the United States have risen so sharply, the U.S. has failed to show due respect for China’s vital national interests, particularly regarding China’s territorial claim to Taiwan. “State-to-state interactions should always be based on mutual respect and sincerity,” President Xi remarked.
A few days before Secretary Blinken’s visit, China’s Foreign Minister Qin Gang spoke more bluntly during his phone call with Secretary Blinken. He demanded that the United States “show respect” for China’s core concerns and “stop undermining China’s sovereignty, security and development interests in the name of competition.” That is a bit rich coming from the country which sent a spy balloon over U.S. sovereign airspace earlier this year to surveil sensitive U.S. military sites, and which set up a secret Chinese police station on U.S. soil.
There was not a single reported acknowledgement of responsibility by China’s leaders, much less an apology, for China’s invasions of U.S. sovereignty and security. Then again, they see no reason to do so with President Biden in the White House. President Biden showed how weak and out of touch with reality he is when he said, shortly before Secretary Blinken’s arrival in China, that the spy balloon incursion was more “embarrassing” for China’s leadership “than it was intentional.”
Secretary Blinken’s face-to-face meetings with China’s leaders were not only a waste of time. As Republican Representative Elise Stefanik of New York warned, Secretary Blinken’s trip would only serve to “legitimize” the Chinese Communist Party’s “continued subversion of our sovereignty.”
The Biden administration would rather patch things up with China as an end in itself than confront the Chinese regime’s increasingly provocative actions. Recently, for example, one of China’s warships came within 150 yards of an American destroyer conducting a freedom-of-navigation exercise with Canada in international waters. And one of China’s jet fighters flew directly in front of an American surveillance plane flying in international airspace. The Biden administration’s response was a feckless call to “keep the lines open with the Chinese to make it clear how unacceptable those particular intercepts are.”
Secretary Blinken’s face-to-face diplomacy did not even result in restoring military-to-military communication channels between China and the United States to avoid unintended military escalation, which China unilaterally severed last year to protest former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s trip to Taiwan.
The Biden administration is under the dangerous illusion that Secretary Blinken’s visit to China would help the United States manage what the administration refers to as “competition” with the Communist Chinese regime. The Chinese Communist regime is not a mere competitor. The regime is America’s most dangerous adversary in the world. President Xi’s top strategic objective is for China, with its authoritarian model of governance, to supplant the United States as the world’s number one military, economic, and diplomatic global superpower.
President Xi’s diplomatic offensive to upstage the United States has been on full display in the Middle East. China is still boasting about its role in helping to bring about a rapprochement between Iran and Saudi Arabia. And now it is renewing its offer to play “peacemaker” to resolve the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.
President Xi recently rolled out the red carpet for the president of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, who wrapped up his four-day state visit to Beijing on June 16th.
President Xi lauded China’s “strategic partnership” with the Palestinians as an “important milestone in the history of bilateral relations.” He reassured his guest that China has “always firmly supported the just cause of the Palestinian people to restore their legitimate national rights.” Xi said that China supports upgrading the Palestinians’ status at the United Nations from a nonmember observer state to a full-fledged member state of the UN.
China turns a blind eye to the fact that the Palestinians do not meet a fundamental prerequisite for recognition as a legitimate independent state under international law. The Palestinians lack a unified government with functional authority over the entire territory the Palestinians claim as their own for an independent state. The Palestinian Authority administers parts of the West Bank while Hamas controls Gaza. They have been at odds with each other since Hamas kicked out Abbas’s Fatah Party members out of Gaza in 2007.
The Chinese regime has refused to acknowledge that Hamas is a terrorist organization bent on eliminating the Jewish state.
For his part, President Abbas said that his government was “looking forward to strengthening cooperation with China.” In return for President Xi’s support of the Palestinians’ maximalist demands and promises of more financial support for the Palestinians, Abbas gave the Chinese regime’s brutal repression of Muslims in the Xinjiang region of China a thumbs up.
Abbas and Xi issued a joint statement declaring that “Xinjiang-related issues are not human rights issues at all, but anti-violent terrorism, de-radicalization and anti-separatism. Palestine firmly opposes interference in China’s internal affairs under the pretext of Xinjiang-related issues.” The joint statement also expressed the Palestinian Authority’s support for China’s hardline policies regarding Taiwan and Hong Kong.
This kind of obeisance to China’s wishes is President Xi’s definition of “respect.”
China’s state-owned propaganda media outlet, the Global Times, laid bare Xi’s real agenda behind his “peacemaker” facade – to bump the United States aside as the primary go-between in the Middle East and expand China’s sphere of influence.
“It is well known that China has been tirelessly advocating for the early achievement of a comprehensive, just, and lasting solution to the Palestinian question for many years,” the Global Times editorial stated before lashing out at the United States’ role in the region. “We all know that Washington often talks about justice and human rights and loves to stand on the moral high ground to accuse others, but it is deeply culpable in the Palestinian issue. As a superpower, the US has played a very negative role in the Palestinian issue.”
It is the Palestinians themselves who are “deeply culpable” for their more than seven decades of failure to achieve the goal of an independent Palestinian state. The Palestinians’ responsibility for their own fate began with the Palestinians’ and their Arab neighboring countries’ rejection of the original two state solution – the United Nations 1947 partition plan. And the Palestinians’ rejectionism has continued ever since.
After Israel’s victory in the 1967 Arab-Israeli war and its capture of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, the United States has made repeated efforts to mediate a negotiated two-state solution between Israeli and Palestinian leaders. Successive U.S. administrations have offered reasonable proposals for resolution of the conflict to no avail.
First Yasser Arafat and then Mahmoud Abbas walked away from proposed deals that would have given the Palestinians virtually all of the West Bank, East Jerusalem as their new state’s capital, and even sovereignty over the Temple Mount. Israel had unilaterally withdrawn from Gaza in 2005, only to be attacked by rockets that Hamas terrorists launched from Gaza after Hamas assumed control of Gaza in 2007.
Arafat and Abbas both dug in their heels on the Palestinians’ demand for an unlimited “right of return” to pre-June 1967 Israel for potentially millions of so-called Palestinian “refugees.” An independent Palestinian state where Palestinians of whatever status could live with full citizenship rights was not enough for them. The Palestinian leaders’ unwavering objective has been to flood Israel proper itself with enough Palestinians claiming the “right of return” to destroy Israel’s unique character as a Jewish state.
China has not offered any concrete proposals to break this logjam. President Xi’s offer for China to serve as “peacemaker” to resolve the Palestinian-Israeli conflict is all hat and no cattle. But it fits in with Xi’s multipronged grand strategy for China to take “center stage in the world.”
President Xi is not content with ousting America’s military and economic presence in China’s own neck of the woods and ensuring China’s dominance in Asia. President Xi’s ultimate goal is to build up a combination of military, technological, and economic powers sufficient to prove to many nations of the world the superiority of the Chinese authoritarian model of governance. Coupling these powers with China’s Belt and Road Initiative and other global soft power initiatives, President Xi is aiming to establish the primacy of his regime’s own version of a multilateral world order with China at its center.
Despite President Xi’s talk of “mutual respect” at his meeting with Secretary Blinken, Xi has no respect for the United States and especially no respect for President Biden.