Neither the U.S. nor China is currently interested in further conflicts, which is why both sides are sending a few friendly signals without abandoning their course. A commentary.
Maybe one day the meeting between U.S. President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit will be regarded as a turning point in a period of strained relations. After all, they would like to open channels of communication so that dialogue between the two sides continues beyond San Francisco.
There are some promising signs of a break in the tension, in any case. Both Washington and Beijing could do without an additional crisis or another war over Taiwan at the moment. Xi needs to attend to the economic crisis and attract foreign capital. Biden has his hands full with the wars in Ukraine and the Middle East and must also win an election against Donald Trump next year.
All this does not make the rivals partners. They will continue to pursue their sometimes confrontational course and eye each other with suspicion. Beijing will not start treating foreign companies better, and Washington will not suddenly begin supplying semiconductors. But it would be helpful if contentious issues were handled in a slightly calmer way and no new dispute were to arise. Then we will see whether this period of détente was just a momentary blip or a lasting development.