Xi Jinping’s cordial tone at G20 does not herald softer foreign policy

Fresh from consolidating power with a third term at home, Xi Jinping struck a largely cordial tone at the G20 summit in Indonesia, but don’t expect a change in China’s often aggressive “wolf-warrior” diplomacy. While laying down a hard line on Taiwan, the Chinese president’s three-hour meeting with Joe Biden was described by the US president as “candid and clear” on subjects ranging from Taiwan to trade. After China accused the US of breaching the “One China” policy in its pledge to protect Taiwan, Biden reassured Xi that the US…

Biden and Sunak vow to support Ukraine and counter China in first call

The US president, Joe Biden, and Britain’s new prime minister, Rishi Sunak, agreed during talks on Tuesday to work together to support Ukraine and stand up to China, the White House said. They spoke for the first time a few hours after Sunak became Britain’s third prime minister this year, inheriting an economic crisis after the resignation of Liz Truss whose tenure lasted 49 days. Only in recent days has Biden appeared to publicly criticise Truss’s doomed economic strategy, in a rare intervention by the US president. Relations between the…

US will soon need to deter two major nuclear powers for first time, White House says

Within a decade, the US will need to deter two major nuclear weapons powers for the first time, the Biden administrationhas warned, pointing to the Russian arsenal that is increasingly being brandished by Moscow and an expanding Chinese stockpile. The president’s new national security strategy (NSS) depicts China as the most capable long-term competitor, but Russia as the more immediate, disruptive threat, pointing to its nuclear posturing over Ukraine. It warns that threat could grow as Russian forces continue to suffer defeats on the battlefield. “Russia’s conventional military will have…

The Guardian view on North Korea’s missile tests: growing risks, reduced response | Editorial

The details vary, but the pattern is immediately recognisable: a volley of missiles, followed by chilling new rhetoric. This time, North Korean state media said the recent flurry of tests simulated strikes on South Korean and US targets with tactical nuclear weapons. It is likely to conduct a seventh nuclear test soon. Pyongyang is not about to reduce Seoul or San Francisco to a sea of ashes: the leadership is not suicidal. But its capabilities are steadily growing; and so are the risks of missteps, perhaps especially in light of…

Biden’s summit with Pacific leaders is a direct response to China, but the US should tread carefully | Gerard Finin and Terence Wesley-Smith

This week, the White House will host its first-ever summit with Pacific Islands leaders. The Pacific spans nearly a third of the globe and is home to 16 island nations. In geostrategic terms, the region is more important today than any time since the second world war. The summit is a direct response to China’s growing influence in a region where western strategic interests have long gone unchallenged. The significance of this development is amplified by persistent whispers that China’s navy seeks permanent access to Pacific port facilities. Yet forceful…

Ukraine war to take centre stage at UN as west and Russia vie for support

The UN general assembly summit this week will be dominated by a struggle – between the US and its allies on one side and Russia on the other – for global support over the fate of Ukraine, as the global south fights to stop the conflict from overshadowing the existential threats of famine and the climate crisis. With a return to fully in-person general debate, presidents and prime ministers will be converging on New York, many of them direct from London, where the diplomacy got under way on the sidelines…

What happens if Putin goes nuclear in Ukraine? Biden has a choice to make

There has been much excited talk of a “turning point” following Ukraine’s rapid military advances in north-eastern Kharkiv region and what Kyiv cheerily calls its “de-occupation” by fleeing Russians. Less comforting for the western democracies is an alternative theory: that the war is approaching “a moment of maximum danger”. Worries that a cornered, desperate Vladimir Putin may resort to nuclear, chemical or biological weapons have resurfaced in the US and Europe, along with the argument, articulated by France’s Emmanuel Macron, that Russia’s president, despite his terrible crimes, should not be…

Joe Biden has picked a fight with tyranny. The west must hope he wins | Simon Tisdall

It was a deadly week for democracy. US president Joe Biden launched a rescue effort to save the “soul of the nation” that the dementor-in-chief, Donald Trump, AKA Lord Voldemort, is conspiring to steal. Russia lost a great man whose titanic struggle for reform was fatally torpedoed by a pint-sized usurper named Vladimir Putin. And China was saddled with indefinite dictatorship under the dead hand of Xi Jinping. Is there hope of resurrection? Perhaps. The more the western democracies are threatened externally by totalitarian regimes and internally by populist extremism,…

Friend or foe: what world leaders think of Liz Truss

She has caused uproar by questioning whether the French president, Emmanuel Macron, is a trusted ally and pursued a policy in Northern Ireland that has upset the White House. Should Liz Truss become prime minister on 5 September, she will come with some unhelpful baggage to the top table on the international stage at a fraught time. The challenges will come thick and fast. From the war in Ukraine, the global energy crisis and the urgent calls for more and deeper action on the climate crisis, the world is looking…

Putin and Xi ‘could meet in September’ at summit in Samarkand

Xi Jinping could meet Vladimir Putin in mid-September at a regional summit in the Uzbek city of Samarkand, it has been reported. According to the Wall Street Journal, preparations are being made for the Chinese president to travel to Samarkand on 15 September for a meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO). Xi’s office signalled he might attend in person, the report said, and that as well as Putin, bilateral meetings could also be held with the leaders of Pakistan, India and Turkey. However, officials cautioned that the Chinese leader’s…