| Chinese President Xi Jinping shakes hands with US Vice President Joe Biden L inside the Great Hall of the People in Beijing December 4 2013 REUTERSLintao ZhangPoolFile Photo | MR Online Chinese President Xi Jinping shakes hands with U.S. Vice President Joe Biden (L) inside the Great Hall of the People in Beijing December 4, 2013. (Photo: REUTERS/Lintao Zhang/Pool//File Photo)

And then Biden blew it …

Originally published: Moon of Alabama on June 21, 2023 by B (more by Moon of Alabama) (Posted Jun 24, 2023)

The talks Secretary of State Anthony Blinken had in China were somewhat useful. On his way out he at least used the right words on Taiwan:

‘We do not support Taiwan independence,’ America’s top diplomat said in Beijing after meeting with Chinese president Xi Jingping.

The U.S. had practically begged for the meeting and that it took place is itself a small success:

To stabilise their relations, China and the United States must first arrest a downward spiral. That may turn out to be the achievement of U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s talks with Chinese leaders in Beijing. It was unrealistic to expect any more just now. The negative fundamentals of the relationship remain the same. Both sides described Blinken’s talks with Foreign Minister Qin Gang and top diplomat Wang Yi as “candid”—meaning very frank. But they paved the way for a meeting between Blinken and President Xi Jinping, which did no harm to hopes for a Xi- Joe Biden summit.Along with Qin’s acceptance of an invitation to Washington, that suggests the two sides found some common ground—particularly the need for more stable ties and to reduce the risk of military conflict.

Then, within just 24 hours, President Biden blew it:

U.S. President Joe Biden has called Chinese President Xi Jinping a dictator at a fundraising event in California. His remarks came a day after U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken met Mr Xi for talks in Beijing, which were aimed at easing tensions between the two superpowers.

Mr Biden also said Mr Xi was embarrassed after an alleged Chinese spy balloon was shot down by the U.S.


“The reason why Xi Jinping got very upset, in terms of when I shot that balloon down with two box cars full of spy equipment in it, was he didn’t know it was there,” Mr Biden said at the event on Tuesday.

“That’s a great embarrassment for dictators. When they didn’t know what happened,” he added.

The Chinese government was not amused:

China’s foreign ministry spokeswoman Mao Ning called Mr Biden’s remarks “extremely absurd and irresponsible”. Speaking at a regularly scheduled press conference on Wednesday, she said that the comments were “an open political provocation” that violated diplomatic etiquette.

The whole Biden remarks with regards to China from the White House website:

And so, things are changing. We put together in Southeast Asia—and, by the way, I promise you we’re going to—don’t worry about China. I mean, worry about China, but don’t worry about China. (Laughter.)No, but I really mean it. China is real—has real economic difficulties. And the reason why Xi Jinping got very upset in terms of when I shot that balloon down with two boxcars full of spy equipment in it is he didn’t know it was there. No, I’m serious. That’s what’s a great embarrassment for dictators, when they didn’t know what happened. That wasn’t supposed to be going where it was. It was blown off course up through Alaska and then down through the United States. And he didn’t know about it. When it got shot down, he was very embarrassed. He denied it was even there.

But the fo—did—the very important point is he’s in a situation now where he wants to have a relationship again. Tony Blinken just went over there—our Secretary of State; did a good job. And it’s going to take time.

But what he was really upset about was that I insisted that we—we reunite the Qu-so-called Quad. He called me and told me not to do that because it was putting him in a bind. I said, “All we’re doing—we’re not trying to surround you, we’re just trying to make sure the international rules with air and sea lanes remain open. And we’re not going to yield to that—on that.”

There are several issues in there that need some clarifying.

China has no real economic difficulties, just minor issues:

The Chinese economy this year is expected to grow faster than previously forecast and exceed the government’s target of “around 5%,” according to a survey of local economists.A survey of 28 economists in March revealed that, on average, they expect the Chinese economy to grow 5.4% in 2023, up from 4.7% they forecast in December. The survey was jointly conducted by Nikkei and Nikkei Quick News.

The hope for China this year was 6% GDP growth. China’s central bank just lowered a key interest rate by a small margin to achieve that.

Biden acknowledges that the weather balloon was ‘blow off course’ and thereby debunks previous claims that it was steerable. China had no intent to let the balloon cross Canada and the United States. And if there had really been ‘two boxcars full of spy equipment’ on the balloon why hasn’t the U.S. shown any of it?

Why would or should a president of the U.S. or China know of some weather balloon floating somewhere?

Xi was embarrassed by the circus the U.S. made over that affair?

Xi is a dictator? The man came to his post by merits (scroll down) and through a complex representational election system. He can even be dismissed.

Xi denied that the ballon was where it was to whom? And the U.S. would know about that how?

Then comes the tale over the Quad. Biden claims that Xi called him over a quad meeting which is most likely a blatant lie. There are typically read-outs of phone calls between leaders at that level but I do not find any of a Xi-Biden call during the relevant months on the White House website. Nor was there any news of one.

The Biden talk, made official by posting it on the White House site, is an insult to China. Whatever Blinken has said or done to smooth the relations is now gone. It was already known that the U.S. can not be trusted with anything that it says. What counts is what the U.S. does and there it has so far shown no positive move towards China.

I am not sure that Biden intentionally talked about the balloon incident or was selective with his words on China. But even if it was somewhat accidentally it would not change anything. What matters is the effect. He has sabotaged the results of Blinken’s talks in China and the U.S. will rightly be blamed for again worsening the relations.

As Yves Smith summarizes:

I wouldn’t bet on the minimal commitments from the meetings, like a return to pre-zero Covid levels of passenger flights, to be implemented.The worst is that this insult does not simply demonstrate that the U.S. is incapable of diplomacy. It shows we are so interested in dominance that we’ve lost sight of what our interests our. So institutionally, we are engaging in the same sort of self-destructive behavior that Trump practices personally. Perhaps that is the real reason Democrats hate him. Despite decorating in gold, the essence of his behavior is not all that different than theirs.

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