Joe Biden “excitedly” pranced across the stage to shake hands with Chinese dictator Xi Jinping, handing him a huge “propaganda victory,” according to a research fellow at the Asian Studies Center of The Heritage Foundation.
Michael Cunningham wrote in a commentary at the Daily Signal it was evident from the meeting between the two on the sidelines of the Group of 20 summit in Indonesia Biden has a “troubling over-eagerness to put the bilateral relationship on a more positive trajectory.”
“In past administrations, Beijing has skillfully used this eagerness to its advantage, and if Biden is not careful, his administration will be no exception,” Cunningham wrote. “If Biden wants to set the U.S.-China relationship on a more favorable track, he must engage Beijing from a position of strength. That’s not what happened Monday.”
While the manner of handshakes “might not even reflect the tone of the overall discussion,” he explained, “they matter.”
“Interactions like these obscure the simple fact that the U.S. far surpasses China in virtually all measures of power. Beijing knows this and is working hard to bridge the power gap, but somehow Biden – like many other U.S. presidents before him – seems incapable of acting in accordance with this reality.”
“Biden’s eagerness to please Beijing was clearly on display Monday. While only those who attended the three-hour closed-door meeting know for sure what transpired, public readouts and the limited footage that was televised show Biden putting most of his emphasis on feel-good issues, such as avoiding conflict and cooperating on transnational concerns, such as climate change.”
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“While Biden also brought up thorny topics such as Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Xinjiang, they did not feature prominently in the official reports of the meeting. Xi’s predictable rhetoric about win-win cooperation and China never seeking to supplant the U.S. may have been what Biden’s team wanted to hear, but it’s in stark contrast to Xi’s recent statements to internal audiences, including during the Communist Party Congress,” he explained.
Another concern is the White House announcement, made immediately, that Secretary of State Antony Blinken will to go China for more discussions.
“That Blinken will travel to China for this meeting and not the other way around implies that the U.S. wants the meeting more than China does, which shouldn’t be the case,” Cunningham wrote. “To some in China, it also conjures up images of a tributary state paying homage to the Chinese emperor. The biggest question, however, is why the meeting is taking place to begin with.”
He warned Biden to careful not to make concessions to restarting dialogue, as it was China that cut them off.
“Biden’s overtures to Xi suggest that he may be on that slippery slope toward such concessions.”
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