World news this week: Biden-Xi, Tunisia

BIDEN-XI CALL [di Giorgio Cuscito]

The online meeting between US President Joe Biden and his counterpart from the People’s Republic of China Xi Jinping did not dispel doubts about the possible stop in Taiwan of speaker of the US House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi in connection with a trip in Japan, South Korea, Malaysia and Singapore which was due to start today, Friday 29 July.

Pelosi’s port of call in Taipei, twenty-five years after his predecessor Newt Gingrich’s, would embarrass Xi and China before the delicate Communist Party Congress. It is the event that in the autumn should confirm him at the helm of the country, struggling with various domestic difficulties and the impossibility of absorbing the island peacefully.

According to The Chinese version, Xi first spoke generically about China-US relations and then turned to the Taiwan issue. In this regard, the Chinese leader reportedly said that “those who play with fire will perish because of it”. The threat has already been expressed In November which coincides with the unspecified “resolute and strong” measures Beijing has promised if Pelosi stops in Taipei. For the Americans, the Chinese government could send fighter jets to intercept the plane or announce one no-fly zone over Taiwan.

The American Communiqué does not report Xi’s statements. However, he points out that Washington is against the unilateral change of status quo. In practice, it does not diplomatically recognize Taipei’s sovereignty, it supports the island militarily and politically, and will almost certainly intervene in its defense if Beijing decides to invade it.

Biden did not take it upon himself to prevent Pelosi’s trip, but a few days ago he emphasized that for the Pentagon “it is not a good idea”. This inconsistency is the result of the connection between the US internal political struggle and the Taiwan dossier. The US president does not want to be accused of weakness towards Beijing by the Republicans, but at the same time he does not want to trigger a crisis with China parallel to the one with Russia in Ukraine.

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The US Senate unanimously passed a non-binding resolution calling on Secretary of State Antony Blinken to include the Russian Federation on the list of state sponsors of terrorism due to its behavior not only in Ukraine (support for Donbas separatists carrying out “acts” of violence against civilians”), but also in Syria (support for the “terrorist government” in Damascus), Georgia and Chechnya. A similar initiative to condemn “the death of thousands of innocent men, women and children” was presented to the House of Representativeswhere is speaker Nancy Pelosi said she was in favor. If the Biden administration granted Congress’ request, Russia would join the list of “rogue states” along with America’s historic enemies: Cuba, Iran, Syria and North Korea.

The bipartisan pressure on Washington’s leadership to designate Moscow as a sponsor of terrorism could also lead to the breakdown of diplomatic relations between the two nuclear superpowers. A significant risk for the stars and stripes empire itself, which these days is also struggling with the knot of Nancy Pelosi’s possible visit to Taiwan (see previous comment). The calls for an impractical absolute marginalization of Russia worry the White House, which sees on the horizon the risk of the opening of an untenable political-military double front.

Ukraine’s request for an ever-increasing supply of long-range artillery systems (with associated munitions and technical assistance) could be accommodated in light of the belligerent orientation of the US Parliament against Russia, but would jeopardize the possibility of approving a possible similar request. military aid from Taiwan, concerned about the growing assertiveness, not just verbal, of mainland China. As efficient as it is, the industrial apparatus of the United States is unable to maintain the constant flow of ammunition on two distant fronts with very long logistical lines. This is the case with the missiles for the M142 Himar’s multiple launchers, which at sustained war speeds – in Ukraine and elsewhere – would run out a year’s production in a matter of weeks. Leaving the warehouses in the planet’s main power dangerously unguarded.

The congress proposal will in all probability be accepted for the sake of internal consensus (the elections of midway approach), but it will be the State Department’s concern to turn the sensitive issue of Russia’s status into an opportunity to lower a new “steel curtain” on the old continent without precipitating a risky dual military escalation: against Moscow for Ukraine, against Beijing for Taiwan .

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