President Biden stated that while both sides had made some progress, he has not changed his mind about Xi being a dictator.
President Joe Biden met with Chinese Communist Party (CCP) leader Xi Jinping on Nov. 15 to tackle a range of contentious issues, including Taiwan, human rights, and fentanyl.
The leaders and their delegates convened at a Georgian revival-style estate south of San Francisco.
President Biden said in remarks before the meeting that he’s known the Chinese leader for a long time and hasn’t always agreed with him, but their discussions have always been open, frank, and productive.
When asked by a reporter during a press conference, President Biden stated that while both sides had made some progress, he has not changed his mind about Xi being a dictator.
The CCP leader, meanwhile began his remarks by addressing global economic issues affecting China. “All these are grave problems,” he said.
The two leaders met on the margins of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) leaders’ summit, which is taking place in San Francisco from Nov. 11 to Nov. 17.
Following the meeting, President Biden stated that the two sides achieved progress on a number of areas, including fentanyl cooperation, restoring military-to-military direct talks, and tackling risk and safety issues associated with artificial intelligence.
President Biden said during the press conference that both sides had a “most constructive and productive” meeting.
He also said he expressed concerns about Beijing’s actions including detained U.S. citizens in China, human rights abuses, and the activities in the South China Sea.
Ahead of the meeting, the White House stated that President Biden would assert a firm stance on the human rights abuses of the CCP and demand changes.
“As is always the case, when we have meetings like this with foreign leaders, particularly when human rights are an issue, the president never shies away from raising that,” White House national security spokesperson John Kirby told reporters during a call.
Mr. Kirby declined to share what the president had on his agenda for human rights or describe the expected mood and tone of the discussion ahead of the meeting.
“But I think you can fully expect that the president will raise our concerns over human rights in China to include the issue of the Uyghurs,” he said, referring to a Muslim ethnic minority in China’s far west who are systematically repressed by the communist regime.
Mr. Kirby, however, was unable to provide a clear answer when asked whether the United States has the potential to persuade Beijing to alter its direction on human rights.
“We’re certainly going to continue to raise our concerns,” he told reporters. “We will be able to do that in a candid, forthright way, as we always do. We absolutely believe that the situation needs to be remedied.”
“I wish I could be perfectly predictive on results here, but I can tell you there’ll be no slackening of our desire to see the situation changed.”
Ahead of the meeting, lawmakers and rights groups urged the president to emphasize the regime’s severe human rights abuses, which include its decadeslong persecution of the spiritual group Falun Gong; repression of ethnic minorities, Christians, and Tibetans; and rollback of freedoms in Hong Kong.
Rather than expecting a big reset, both sides have approached the meeting with the objective of stabilizing their relationship.
This was the two leaders’ second in-person meeting since President Biden took office. They last met on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Bali, Indonesia, in November 2022.
With Taiwan’s upcoming election in 2024, the topic is currently a major concern for the two countries.
The White House has expressed alarm over China’s attempt to interfere in Taiwan’s elections. The stakes are too high to ignore for the Biden administration, since the outcome could result in a government that’s more friendly to China rather than to the United States.
During the press conference, President Biden said he discussed the Taiwan election with the Chinese leader and doesn’t expect any interference from the Chinese side.
Some members of Congress have asked President Biden to bring up the issue of Americans wrongfully detained in China.
“Despite repeated concessions from Washington over the past year, Beijing has made none and continues to threaten core U.S. interests,” Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-Wisc.) told The Epoch Times.
He said the Biden administration should walk away from the meeting if the CCP refuses to address even the most basic issues, such as releasing all Americans wrongfully detained in China and ending its military harassment of Taiwan.