What Biden will tell Xi during his first sitdown with the Chinese leader

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What Biden will tell Xi during his first sitdown with the Chinese leader

President Biden is expected to address mounting tensions over Taiwan in his first face-to-face meeting with President Xi Jinping of China Monday but is unlikely to press his counterpart on issues that have killed more than 1 million Americans — the origins of COVID-19 and fentanyl production.

“I don’t expect in any meaningful way they could make progress on either topic,” said Victoria Coates, a senior fellow at the Heritage Foundation. “Xi is just not going to admit any culpability.”

The sitdown in Bali, Indonesia, ahead of the G20 summit, comes amid slumping relations between the two global superpowers, dragged down to a decades-low by clashes over Taiwan, trade, and the pandemic.  

A senior administration official previously said the Ukraine war and North Korean nuclear provocations may be addressed, but suggested they were unlikely to spur breakthroughs.

The official did not address whether the nations’ presidents will broach the possibility COVID leaked from a lab in Wuhan, China; or how fentanyl exported from China has contributed to 107,000 US deaths last year. 

A picture of someone walking in front of the Wuhan Institute of Virology in China.
It is unsure whether President Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping will discuss the origins of COVID-19.

A picture of a US Customs and Border Protection officer looking at drugs.
According to reports, fentanyl exported from China has contributed to 107,000 US deaths last year.

Biden has said that he expects to discuss “red lines” and work on areas of conflict with Xi, including the hot-button topic of Taiwan. The self-governed democratic island and staunch American ally officially is considered part of China’s territory by the U.S and the U.N. under the one-China policy.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi drew Beijing’s ire in August over her visit to the island nation, resulting in China dropping dialogues over climate change and military-to-military communications, and initiating live-fire exercises around the island. Biden meanwhile has enraged China by promising four times to defend Taiwan with military aid against China’s aggression.

The presidents have communicated five times since Biden entered the Oval Office, but the face-to-face meeting in theory offers a chance to reset the dynamics between the U.S. and China. Major breakthroughs, however, are not expected, with Biden himself promising not to make any “fundamental concessions.” 

US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi spoke with Taiwan's President Tsai Ing-wen in August 2022.
US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi spoke with Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen in August 2022.
Getty Images

Biden “will hew fairly close to the long-standing official US position [on Taiwan],” said Jacques deLisle, Asia program director at the Foreign Policy Research Institute.

“The benefits [of the meeting] are probably pretty small, but talking is better than not talking,” deLisle added. “Given the state of the relationship, it’s something that helps put a floor under the fall, that stops the decline.” 

Republicans, however, have expressed alarm over Monday’s meeting, which they see as risky and rife with opportunities for Biden to show weakness against his international rival, particularly over issues surrounding climate change. 

A picture of the Wuhan Institute of Virology in Wuhan in China.
Some have speculated the COVID-19 was leaked from a lab in Wuhan, China.

A picture of a young girl getting a mask put on her.
The pandemic sparked a global shutdown in March 2020.

“Xi is not interested in genuine cooperation on climate and he cut off talks in an attempt to punish the Biden administration” after Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan, said GOP Rep. Michael McCaul, chairman-in-waiting of the House Foreign Affairs Committee. 

“He will likely try to strong-arm President Biden into making concessions to the [Chinese Community Party] in exchange for climate talks and Congress will be watching.”

Other legislators are worried that Biden is likely compromised due to his family’s previous business dealings with companies tied to the CCP.

A picture of GOP Rep. Michael McCaul.
“Xi is not interested in genuine cooperation on climate and he cut off talks in an attempt to punish the Biden administration,” said GOP Rep. Michael McCaul.

A picture of Rep. James Comer Jr.
“Americans expect President Biden to be tough with Communist China and we will continue to demand answers from this Administration…,” Rep. James Comer said.

Our investigation has revealed the Biden family was attempting to sell American natural gas to a Chinese company tied to and most likely controlled by the CCP,” said House Committee on Oversight and Reform Ranking Member James Comer (R-Ky.). “President Biden must put America first, not his family’s financial interests.”

Comer and House Republicans have promised a sweeping congressional inquiry into the president’s son Hunter Biden should they retake the majority.

“Americans expect President Biden to be tough with Communist China and we will continue to demand answers from this Administration, but we will pursue all recourses if the White House continues its unwillingness to provide them,” he said.

With Post wires

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