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Peter Zeihan

Geopolitical Strategist

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Biden and Xi hit it off in San Francisco

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Peter Zeihan

Geopolitical Strategist

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After years of rising tensions, American and Chinese leaders have started working to stabilize relations between the rival superpowers. U.S. President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping met — for the first time in a year — in San Francisco Nov. 15, stressing the importance of managing tensions and maintaining communication.

Straight Arrow News contributor Peter Zeihan feels surprised by Xi Jinping‘s friendly demeanor. He observes that the two leaders appeared honest, amicable, and willing to discuss hard issues together, including the global battle against climate change. What this actually means for China or for Xi — and whether this is all just a ruse from China, rather than a genuine, goodwill effort — remains to be seen.

The following is an excerpt from Peter’s Nov. 17 “Zeihan on Geopolitics” newsletter:

This week at the APEC summit in San Francisco, President Joe Biden and Chairman Xi Jinping sat down for a long overdue meeting.

One unexpected twist is that Xi expressed a desire for peace and cooperation between the two countries. There are only three scenarios for why I can see this happening: Xi has lost his edge, his cult of personality has cut off the flow of information, detaching Xi from reality, or he’s trying to play puppet master with the U.S.

Again, let’s not dive too far down that rabbit hole because Xi was more concerned about the flowers at the hotel than any of the APEC discussions. However, we won’t have to wait long before the truth reveals itself…

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Everybody, Peter Zeihan here coming to you from Colorado. It is the 16th of November, and yesterday in San Francisco at the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation summit, Chairman Xi Jinping and US President Joe Biden finally had that long-awaited summit. It’s the first time that a real leader has met with Xi in something like four years. And it was really our first read on how he personally is doing, whether he’s lost his mind to senility or he’s just so drowned in his own propaganda that he can’t function. The result was combined many measures fairly surprising. Xi was basically all friendly, talking about how he didn’t want competition, you want to be in front of United States, and you want to challenge the United States. I mean, it was basically peace, love and recycle, he sounded like a teenage camp counselor.

 

Three theories that come from this, which are going to shake out real quick into the fact number one, he really has lost his mind.

 

In which case, we’re going to see increasing breakdowns and decision making across the Chinese system as he basically goes bipolar, which could be entertaining, but a little bit dangerous. The other two scenarios had to do with the cult personnel that is formed, Xi has destroyed all challengers to the throne. There’s no local leaders or regional leaders that have stuff anymore. He’s gone through the bureaucracy and academia and business, and he’s purged the bureaucracy as well. So part of the problem the Chinese have been having of late is that no one will bring him news. So he really is broadly unaware of what’s going on in his own country and across the world. And so when he is thrust into something like the APEC summit, things get a little weird. All of his staff apparently focused on the location of the table settings and the types of silverware and what flowers would be in the hotel. And you know, of course, he didn’t want to see the protesters. But it was all on the atmospherics and the design as opposed to the substance. There was very little prep on the Chinese side, as far as we’ve been able to tell, for what the actual topics of the day happened to be in, you know, there’s a few things going on right now. So that kind of puts us into one of two categories. Number one,

 

Xi exposed to the world via San Francisco for the first time in years, is like oh my god, what have I done? My country’s in demographic collapse, our trade situation is dangerous. We are looking at national delusive dissolution over the next decade of stuff unless something just dramatically changes. And every theoretical solution involves the United States in some way. We have to have their market, we have to have the security, their navy grants our maritime shipping, we have to have access to the financial markets, the US, US, US, US, it has to be the US. And if he’s come to that realization, then a complete 180 from what we’ve seen over the last five years makes a lot of sense. The question is whether the cult came now push that down into the bureaucracy in the Chinese system when there are very few competent people left in that system. We will know the answer to that in a matter of weeks, because [Xi and] the Chinese will stop being a bag of dicks like they have been for the last five years, or things will change. There’s it’s really pretty binary. The second issue is that it’s all lies, that this is all just part of Gza internal play in order to allow the Americans a false sense of security. Considering that the Biden administration has taken many more anti-China actions than the Trump administration has and has, unlike the Trump administration, codified them into law so they’ll outlast him, that is a bit of a stretch to think that the Chinese could be that stupid. But considering the Chinese inability to function in most international forums of late and the destruction of the information transfer system within the Chinese system by Xi, it’s entirely possible that they are really that dumb.

 

And we will know the answer to that real soon, too. So one way or another, here we come.

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