In their first in-person meeting since 2017 in Bali, Indonesia, on Tuesday last week, ahead of the G20 Summit, US President Joe Biden reiterated to President Xi Jinping that competition between China and US should not veer into conflict, the two sides must manage their competition responsibly, and the United States and China must work together to address transnational challenges because that is what the international community expects.
While the Chinese side has earnestly followed up on the two leaders' consensus to foster cooperation, the US side has once again repeated its now-familiar trick of saying one thing and doing another.
Less than five days after the two leaders' meeting, Brett McGurk, the White House's Middle East coordinator, tried to pressure the US' Gulf allies to steer clear of ties with China at a think tank security conference in Bahrain on Sunday, saying that it would hamper their cooperation with the US, their chief strategic ally and security partner.
In what can only be described as an ultimatum, the White House's top official responsible for the Middle East said: "There are certain partnerships with China that would create a ceiling to what we can do. It's simply a fact, and that's the truth here as anywhere else in the world, based upon relationships between countries that are military competitors of ours."
Putting aside the fact that China is not a military competitor to the US, that attempt to strong-arm countries into showing China a cold shoulder not only serves to poison the positive momentum that had been generated by the two leaders' meeting but also exposes the divorced-from-reality nature of the US' Middle East policy, which dooms it to failure.
China's cooperation with the Middle East countries is not targeted at any third party and focuses on tapping into bilateral complementarity to promote common development. For too long the US has regarded the Middle East as a blood-for-oil arena of power politics, and the nature of its security protection in the region is to guarantee the US' energy security at the cost of local lives.
The US has no legitimacy to dictate to regional countries which countries they can cooperate with, and thanks to its strategic withdrawal from the region, the regional countries are finally able to grasp their development initiative in their own hands.
By applying a balanced diplomacy, which is by no means a betrayal to the US, countries in the region are doing nothing but creating the necessary conditions to transition their economies from their reliance on oil exports, a model the US wants them to continue to maintain so that they continue to depend on it for "security", to a green growth.
Unlike the US, China is always open to working with third parties, including the US, to promote peace and stability in the region and support the regional countries' pursuit of sustainable development.