THERE were smiles and photo ops aplenty as Presidents Joe Biden and Xi Jinping met recently in a San Francisco suburb for a much-anticipated summit. Considering that the meeting came after a lengthy lean patch between the world’s two top economies, the outcomes have been described as generally positive, even though Mr Biden labelled his Chinese counterpart a dictator not too long after both had met, perhaps another one of the bizarre faux pas the US leader is prone to. Mr Xi assured his host that the planet was “big enough” for both countries, while Mr Biden said that understanding each other was “paramount”Another step toward de-escalating tensions is the reopening of military communication lines between Washington and Beijing.
Notwithstanding how positive the summit was, there should be no misgivings that it portends the end of the hard times for Sino-American relations. China is considered America’s most “important strategic rival,” according to the Pentagon’s National Defense Strategy from the previous year. Not much suggests that this characterization has evolved. The summit was successful in maintaining open lines of communication between the two superpowers in an unstable world. However, there is a risk of a painful collision if both capitals do not handle the relationship—and their Great Power competition—responsibly, especially regarding the Taiwan issue.Even though the US claims to still support the One China policy, many in the political establishment in the US are adamant about pushing Taiwan closer to independence. This is the “red line” that Beijing is most concerned about, according to Mr. Xi during the summit. In fact, experts believe that if the Taiwan issue is not handled carefully, it could become the catalyst for an open conflict between the United States and China, in addition to the war in Ukraine and the Middle East. China must resist the temptation and find a peaceful solution to the Taiwan dispute, while the US should adhere to the One China policy and stop upsetting Beijing. However, countries like Pakistan caught in the middle—and if and when these geopolitical “elephants” clash—must avoid the consequences. Promoting neutrality is simple, but inIn order to safeguard Pakistan’s interests and ensure that the nation weathers the shockwaves of foreign conflict, the state must plan for all geopolitical whims.