Xi Insists
Bloomberg Businessweek|February 01, 2021
Improving U.S.-China relations will require President Xi to make real compromises. So far, he’s unyielding
Michael Schuman

As Joe Biden settles into the White House, there’s been endless debate about what his China policy should, could, and will be. Yet it takes two superpowers to tango, so Xi Jinping’s approach to Biden will be every bit as critical as Biden’s to Xi—perhaps even more so. Any significant improvement in U.S.-China relations is impossible unless Xi is willing to dance.

Is he? We don’t know with any certainty. Xi doesn’t share very much about his thinking on U.S. policy. He rarely ever even mentions the U.S. by name. As with so much else in China, we’re stuck parsing Xi’s comments, dissecting his actions, and making some educated projections.

A picture does emerge from the murk. And unfortunately for global stability and prosperity, it doesn’t look good.

The reason can be found in how Xi has changed China and China’s role in the world. Donald Trump’s rejection of traditional U.S. foreign policy principles grabbed the headlines, but Xi’s break with Beijing’s past practices has been just as dramatic. And while Trump has been shown the door by American voters, Xi isn’t going anywhere, and neither is his agenda. In that sense, Xi’s impact on the world may prove to be greater and more fundamental than Trump’s. And that may make China’s rapprochement with the U.S. difficult, if not downright impossible.

Sure, Beijing is sending some positive signals. At the virtual Davos summit on Jan. 25, in his first speech since Biden’s inauguration, Xi called on the world to abandon an “outdated Cold War mentality,” adding that “confrontation will lead us to a dead end.” And there are ways Biden and Xi can at least tamp down tensions. Xi will probably be open to cutting small deals to achieve specific ends. For instance, he could offer Biden a few concessions on trade or market access for U.S. companies to get remaining Trump tariffs on Chinese goods lifted. He may also find more avenues of engagement with Biden than with Trump—for example, a shared concern about climate change.

Continue reading your story on the app

Continue reading your story in the magazine

MORE STORIES FROM BLOOMBERG BUSINESSWEEKView All

The Food Fight in Fake Meat

Beyond Meat was an early leader. But rival Impossible Foods and others want to eat its lunch

6 mins read
Bloomberg Businessweek
April 19, 2021

The U.K. Wants to Clean Up Space

The amount of debris in orbit is an increasing danger—and a potential market opportunity

4 mins read
Bloomberg Businessweek
April 19, 2021

Peak Pallet

Prices for a warehouse staple are at a record, buoyed by the boom in e-commerce

4 mins read
Bloomberg Businessweek
April 19, 2021

THE MAN WHO KEEPS THE FAR RIGHT ONLINE

While Amazon and its peers have stopped supporting certain prominent White supremacists and conspiracy theorists, Nick Lim has stepped in

10+ mins read
Bloomberg Businessweek
April 19, 2021

Stopping the Race to the Bottom on Taxes

The U.S. is energizing a global effort to put a floor under corporate tax rates

8 mins read
Bloomberg Businessweek
April 19, 2021

The Guggenheims Of NFTs

Perhaps you’ve heard of nonfungible tokens? These collectors already have millions of dollars’ worth

10 mins read
Bloomberg Businessweek
April 19, 2021

Reincarnation And Realpolitik

China, India, and the U.S. are vying to influence the selection of the next Dalai Lama

5 mins read
Bloomberg Businessweek
April 19, 2021

WAITING FOR ELON

It’s not easy to compete with Miami and Austin for high-tech jobs. But Adelanto, Calif., which boasts a light regulatory environment, an enthusiastic city manager, and plenty of dirt, is giving it a shot

10+ mins read
Bloomberg Businessweek
April 19, 2021

LAW & CRYPTO

Arthur Hayes faces U.S. prosecution over how he ran his overseas Bitcoin exchange

5 mins read
Bloomberg Businessweek
April 19, 2021

In Hot Pursuit

Chris Urmson’s company, Aurora, has merged with Uber’s self-driving unit to take on Waymo

7 mins read
Bloomberg Businessweek
April 19, 2021
RELATED STORIES

Political Animals: Olivia Nuzzi

The No-Splash Tell-all What the muted reaction to Hunter Biden’s crackfueled memoir says about his father’s Washington.

6 mins read
New York magazine
April 12-25, 2021

DEADLY WUHAN COVER-UP!

U.S. health officials untangling how virus escaped secret bio lab

4 mins read
National Enquirer
April 19, 2021

BINANCE'S CHANGPENG ZHAO: “I'm not using crypto to buy fiat, I'm not using crypto to buy houses. I just want to keep crypto ”

Changpeng Zhao, 44, has spent his life trying to overcome borders. As a child growing up in China, he waited for years until his family could win permission to see his father in Canada, then pursued a career (including a few years at Bloomberg LP) that took him around the world.

10+ mins read
Bloomberg Markets
April - May 2021

CAN BIDEN ADD ENERGY JOBS? HOPE MIXES WITH DOUBT

Good-paying jobs — many of them.

6 mins read
Techlife News
Techlife News #493

HIGH COURT SIDES WITH GOOGLE IN COPYRIGHT FIGHT WITH ORACLE

Technology companies sighed with relief after the Supreme Court sided with Google in a copyright dispute with Oracle. The high court said Google did nothing wrong in copying code to develop the Android operating system now used on most smartphones.

3 mins read
Techlife News
Techlife News #493

WHAT BIDEN'S NEW $100B PLAN FOR BROADBAND MEANS

The problems with U.S. broadband networks have been obvious for years. Service costs more than in many other rich nations, it still doesn’t reach tens of millions of Americans and the companies that provide it don’t face much competition.

4 mins read
AppleMagazine
April 09, 2021

US, CHINA CONSULTED ON SAFETY AS THEIR CRAFTS HEADED TO MARS

As their respective spacecrafts headed to Mars, China and the U.S. held consultations earlier this year in a somewhat unusual series of exchanges between the rivals.

1 min read
Techlife News
Techlife News #492

BIDEN ANNOUNCES HUGE INFRASTRUCTURE PLAN TO ‘WIN THE FUTURE'

President Joe Biden outlined a huge $2.3 trillion plan Wednesday to re-engineer the nation’s infrastructure in what he billed as “a once-in-a-generation investment in America” that would undo his predecessor’s signature legislative achievement — giant tax cuts for corporations — in the process.

5 mins read
Techlife News
Techlife News #492

CHINA CUTS TAXES TO SPUR SEMICONDUCTOR DEVELOPMENT

China announced tax breaks this week to spur growth of its semiconductor industry following U.S. sanctions that alarmed the ruling Communist Party by cutting offaccess to American processor chips for tech giant Huawei and some other companies.

1 min read
AppleMagazine
AppleMagazine #492

The National Interest: Jonathan Chait

Schooling the Left Biden’s first big break with his allies is over classroom reopenings.

5 mins read
New York magazine
March 29 - April 11, 2021