Sumary of A complicated relationship: Biden and Xi prepare for meeting:
- But as the two leaders prepare to hold their first presidential meeting on Monday, the troubled U.S.-China relationship is demonstrating that the power of one of Biden’s greatest professed strengths as a politician — the ability to connect — has its limits.
- “When it comes to U.S.-China relations, the gaps are so big and the trend lines are so problematic that the personal touch can only go so far,” said Matthew Goodman, who served as an Asia adviser on the National Security Council in the Barack Obama and George W.
- White House officials have set low expectations for Monday’s virtual meeting: No major announcements are expected and there’s no plan for the customary joint statement by the two countries at the end, according to administration officials.
- Biden bristled in June when asked by a reporter if he would press his old friend to cooperate with a World Health Organization investigation into the coronavirus origins.
- “He feels that the history of their relationship, having spent time with him, allows him to be quite candid as he has been in the past and he will continue to be,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said in previewing the encounter.
- Biden and Xi, ages 78 and 68 respectively, first got to know each other on travels across the U.S. and China when both were vice presidents, interactions that both leaders say left a lasting impression.
- Biden has made clear that he sees China as the United States’ greatest national security and economic competitor and has tried to reframe American foreign policy to reflect that belief.
- His administration has taken Beijing to task over committing human rights abuses against ethnic minorities in northwest China, squelching pro-democracy efforts in Hong Kong and resisting global pressure to cooperate fully with investigations into the origins of the coronavirus pandemic.