By Dave Patterson
For the first time in roughly a year, there was a handshake and the beginning of a face-to-face discussion between President Joe Biden and China’s President Xi Jinping. The Biden-Xi summit portended the possibility of substantive talks on such topics as the People’s Republic of China’s (PRC) provocative harassment of Taiwan, pushing fentanyl ingredients to Mexican cartels, the incorporation of artificial intelligence in military weapons, and the uptick of PRC spying in America, among other subjects. Unfortunately, some of these objectives were merely aspirational.
Even as the two leaders greeted each other warmly, the expectation for significant breakthroughs in the plethora of challenging issues facing Biden-Xi talks were low. Nonetheless, the need for Washington and Beijing to be on speaking terms at a minimum would be a solid result from the negotiations. President Xi arrived at the tree-lined drive of the Filoli Estate in Woodside, California, where the talks were held. No doubt wishing to put its best foot forward, White House staff chose a community where the median home price is North of $5 million. Emerging from the limousine, Xi was met by President Biden on the steps of the mansion. After a collegial hand-over-hand handshake, the two leaders went in for the meeting.
Biden-Xi Talks Scripted and Predictable
President Biden, taking some liberties with his script, opened the session by patronizing Xi a bit, saying, “I’ve never doubted what you’ve told me and the candor with which you speak. I value our conversation because I think it’s paramount that you and I understand each other clearly, leader-to-leader with no misconceptions or miscommunications.” He later, in the press conference following the meeting, invoked former President Ronald Reagan’s counsel, “trust but verify” despite never doubting Xi. Biden then gave a glimpse into his fear of the PRC by warning, “We have to ensure that competition does not veer into conflict. And we also have to manage responsibly that competition.”
Biden opened the door to the issues he wanted to talk about. The president explained:
“That’s what the United States wants and what we intend to do…I also believe it’s what the world wants for both of us, a candid exchange. We also have a responsibility to our people and the work and the world to work together when we see it in our interests to do so. And the critical global challenge we face from climate change to counter narcotics, to artificial intelligence demand our joint efforts.”
One can only imagine what Xi was thinking regarding “climate change” as a “critical global challenge.” President Xi responded by reading from a written statement, most of which was released by China’s state media before the Biden-Xi meeting. Consequently, Xi’s more direct, less flattering comments were no surprise.
“Mr. President, good morning, coming here I thought of. I think of your trip to China when I was the vice president of China, and how we had a meeting. It was 12 years ago, I still remember our interactions very vividly, and it always gives me a lot of thoughts. Last time we met in Bali, you said it was a year and a day ago. A lot has happened since then…The global economy is recovering, but its momentum remains sluggish. Industrial and supply chains are still under the threat of interruption and protectionism is rising. All these are grave problems.”
The PRC’s leader did not elaborate on what his “thoughts” were. One wonders why? Xi’s reference to protectionism is a slam against US tariffs on Chinese goods and the many in the US Congress calling for a decoupling of America’s economy from the tight restraints of China’s predatory trade practices.
The PRC’s chief executive then schooled Biden on the obvious, saying: “For two large countries like China and the United States, turning their back on each other is not an option. It is unrealistic for one side to remodel the other, and conflict and confrontation has (sic) unbearable consequences for both sides.” In other words, President Biden, stay out of China’s business in expanding our hold on the South China Sea and harassing Philippine commercial vessels, and threatening Taiwan. “It is an objective fact that China and the United States are different in history, culture, social system, and development path,” Xi explained. Therefore, if the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) wants to put Uyghurs in concentration camps and brutalize its people, well, that’s just its cultural proclivity.
Xi Reminds Biden He’s Responsible If Relations Go Sideways
In wrapping up, Xi reminded Biden: “Mr. President, you and I, we are at the helm of China-US relations. We shoulder heavy responsibilities for the two peoples of the world for history.” It should be instructive that the leader of one-fifth of the world’s population did not mention climate change as being of interest to him or China. Following the Biden-Xi opening statements by both presidents, a four-hour closed-door session began where more detailed conversations took place.
Having learned it would be a good idea to get to a microphone first to get the US view on the discussions, President Biden held a press conference shortly after the meeting with President Xi adjourned. The US chief executive was upbeat about the discussions, telling reporters, “…(A)fter many years of being on hold, we are restarting cooperation between the United States and the PRC on counternarcotics.” Biden explained that he had Xi’s commitment to reduce the flow of fentanyl ingredients. However, there is no assurance that Xi’s assurance is assured. The president was proud of being able to re-establish military-to-military contacts and to keep the lines of communication in the Biden-Xi relationship open.
The appropriate use of artificial intelligence (AI) was on the agenda, and Biden was confident progress has been made in achieving “tangible steps in the right direction to determine what’s useful and what’s not useful, what’s dangerous and what’s acceptable.” Biden explained that the two presidents discussed “the importance of peace and stability in the Taiwan straits.” However, Xi has made clear in the past, “peace and stability” means Taiwan is reunited with the Chinese mainland, peacefully or by force.
When evaluating the Biden-Xi summit, the conclusion is that strides were made to get the relationship back to where it was before the spy balloon incident in February. However, in the category of “Biden can never quit while he’s ahead,” while walking off stage after the press conference, the president answered a shouted question about whether he still held the view he expressed in June that Xi was a dictator. “Look, he is. He’s a dictator in the sense that he’s a guy who runs a country that is a communist country that’s based on a form of government totally different than ours,” Biden shot back. After all the careful White House planning, Biden snatches defeat from the jaws of victory. China got the last word. “This statement is extremely wrong and irresponsible political manipulation,” Mao Ning, CCP foreign ministry representative told reporters the day after the meeting, Reuters said.
Whatever expectations there were for this meeting, “The administration’s goal, simply, was to turn back the clock and restore the bilateral relationship to where it was when the two men last met in Bali, Indonesia, before tensions escalated,” Politico observed. By that White House standard, mission accomplished.
The views expressed are those of the author and not of any other affiliation.
About the author: National Security Correspondent at LibertyNation.Com. Dave is a retired U.S. Air Force Pilot with over 180 combat missions in Vietnam. He is the former Principal Deputy Under Secretary of Defense, Comptroller and has served in executive positions in the private sector aerospace and defense industry. In addition to Liberty Nation, Dave’s articles have appeared in The Federalist and DefenseOne.com.
Source: This article was published by Liberty Nation