Biden Touts ‘Constructive’ Talks With China Amid Criticisms of Insufficient Progress on Key Issues

The president’s off-the-cuff remark at the end of his press conference became the most headline-grabbing aspect of the meeting.

Following a high-stakes meeting in San Francisco, President Joe Biden touted that the United States and China had “some of the most constructive and productive discussions” on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific leaders’ summit. Critics, however, point out that the summit achieved minimal progress on the key bilateral issues.

After hours of meeting with Chinese Communist Party leader Xi Jinping at the secluded historic estate south of San Francisco, President Biden highlighted a few key outcomes: the restoration of high-level military dialogue, China’s commitment to reducing fentanyl exports to the United States, and tackling risks of artificial intelligence.

President Biden made it clear that the purpose of the meeting was to manage “competition responsibly so it doesn’t veer into conflict.”

However, the summit made little or no headway on the most important bilateral issues, including Taiwan, as well as China’s theft of intellectual property, economic coercion, and human rights violations.

The president’s off-the-cuff remark at the end of his press conference became the most headline-grabbing aspect of the meeting.

As he was exiting the press conference, President Biden was asked if he would still refer to the Chinese leader as a “dictator” as he did in June.

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“Well, look, he is. I mean, he’s a dictator in the sense that he is a guy who runs a country, that’s a communist country that’s based on a form of government totally different than ours,” President Biden said.

Even more remarkable was the reaction of Secretary of State Antony Blinken. Video footage showed him wince when the president called the CCP leader a “dictator” for the second time this year.

Beijing denounced President Biden’s comments the next day.

The high-stakes meeting on the sidelines of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit was both leaders’ second face-to-face meeting during Biden’s presidency. Their previous in-person meeting took place last November at the G20 summit in Bali, Indonesia.

Taiwan Conundrum

The White House expressed concern ahead of the meeting over China’s attempt to meddle in Taiwan’s elections. Taiwan is one of the most controversial bilateral problems between the two countries, as China considers the self-ruled island to be its own territory.

Following the meeting, President Biden said he cautioned the Chinese leader against interfering in Taiwan’s upcoming elections.

“I made it clear: I didn’t expect any interference, any at all,” he told reporters during the press conference.

The upcoming presidential elections in Taiwan in January are crucial as they will determine the island’s relationship with China.

Tensions over Taiwan have not been resolved during the discussions, according to Keith Krach, billionaire entrepreneur and former undersecretary of state.

“President Biden’s warning to China not to interfere in Taiwan’s elections underscores the sensitive nature of Taiwan’s sovereignty and the importance of democratic processes. It suggests that while tactical discussions may take place, strategic and ideological differences regarding Taiwan remain a significant point of contention between the United States and China,” Mr. Krach told The Epoch Times.

President Biden reaffirmed during the meeting his commitment to the One China policy, which states that the United States does not recognize Taiwan’s independence.

“We maintain an agreement that there is a One China policy and that I’m not going to change that. That’s not going to change,” President Biden told reporters when asked about China’s military operations around the island and U.S. commitment to defend it.

“That’s about the extent to which we discussed,” Biden said.

The most important deliverable of the Biden–Xi meeting was the meeting itself, says Rupert Hammond-Chambers, president of the US-Taiwan Business Council, a non-profit organization dedicated to fostering trade and business relations between the United States and Taiwan.

“It’s important that Washington and Beijing talk and have open lines of communication however, it cannot be talk for talk’s sake,” he told The Epoch Times. “In the Bush and Obama eras, bilateral discussions were the priority for the U.S. and we would self-censor our interests in pursuit of that dialogue. China understood this well and used it as leverage making significant gains at U.S. expense under those two presidencies.”

Mr. Hammond-Chambers has concerns that the CCP is persisting in its efforts to limit the Biden administration’s backing for Taiwan through coercion.

“The Biden Administration did curb its support for Taiwan in the run-up to the meeting,” he said, adding that Taiwanese vice president and presidential candidate William Lai Ching-te’s transit through the United States a few months ago “was severely curtailed in an effort to minimize Beijing’s pique over his trip.”

 U.S. President Joe Biden looks on during a meeting with Chinese leader Xi Jinping during the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Leaders' week in Woodside, Calif., on Nov. 15, 2023. (Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images)
U.S. President Joe Biden looks on during a meeting with Chinese leader Xi Jinping during the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Leaders’ week in Woodside, Calif., on Nov. 15, 2023. (Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images)

Curbing Fentanyl Exports

During the meeting, China agreed in principle to restrict the export of chemicals used in the manufacture of fentanyl, a synthetic opioid 50 times stronger than heroin that has triggered the deadliest drug epidemic in American history.

As part of the deal, the State Department said that the United States would lift its sanctions against China’s Institution of Forensic Science, which is accused of conducting mass surveillance and human rights violations in the Xinjiang region.

At the beginning of their meeting, both leaders underlined the importance of having dialogue despite their differences. Many, however, have voiced doubts about the CCP’s sincerity.

The Biden–Xi meeting “was an embarrassment, but unsurprising,” Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.) said in a statement to The Epoch Times.

“I do not trust a word that Xi Jinping says, and neither should any American including Joe Biden. Actions speak louder than words. And communist China’s actions have told us that they choose to be our enemy.”

Adam Savit, the director of the China Initiative at America First Policy Institute, a Washington-based think tank, agrees and says that the CCP leader isn’t sincere about mending fences with the U.S. government.

“Xi’s actions have shown he’s not worthy of his promises, and not serious about improving ties with the United States,” Mr. Savit told The Epoch Times.

He noted that the CCP has strengthened alliances with Russia and Iran, both of which are actively involved in wars against U.S. allies, intimidated Taiwan and violated its sovereignty, increased naval aggression against the Philippines in the South China Sea, continued human rights abuses in China, and flagrantly stole intellectual property.

“Giving Xi a high-profile meeting with the American president on American soil rewarded this dangerous behavior,” he added.

Other China critics have also criticized the Biden administration for not doing more to hold Beijing accountable.

“I don’t think that the leadership that we have in place right now is strong enough to push back against China,” Rep. Harriet Hageman (R-Wyo.) told The Epoch Times’ sister media NTD in an interview.

The death toll from the fentanyl crisis alone is reason enough for the administration to be pushing back very strongly against Chinese policies and the CCP, she added.

Exclusive Dinner Draws Criticism

Another important event at the summit was the dinner meeting between the American business executives and the Chinese leader. The business leaders reportedly paid $40,000 per person for the exclusive meeting with the communist ruler, attracting a lot of criticism.

Among the American executives who were seated at Xi’s table at the event were Apple’s Tim Cook, Blackrock’s Larry Fink, and Blackstone’s Stephen Schwarzman, according to Bloomberg.

Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-Wisc.), chairman of the select committee on the CCP, criticized the event in a letter.

“It is unconscionable that American companies might pay thousands of dollars to join a ‘welcome dinner’ hosted by the very same CCP officials who have facilitated a genocide against millions of innocent men, women, and children in Xinjiang,” Mr. Gallagher wrote in the letter to National Committee on U.S. China Relations, an organizer of the event.

“China is ready to be a partner and friend of the U.S.,” the CCP leader said during the meeting with business leaders.

Mr. Krach believes that China is not open for business and that American executives will not be influenced by Beijing’s “charm offensive.”

“U.S. business leaders, acutely aware of the economic turbulence within China, are far from convinced by Xi Jinping’s assurances,” he said.

“The collapse in exports, the turmoil in the real estate sector, and significant divestments from foreign investors underscore a reality that cannot be masked by diplomatic charm.”

Original News Source Link – Epoch Times

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