President Joe Biden met with Chinese leader Xi Jinping on Nov. 14 for the duo’s first face-to-face meeting of Biden's presidency. They discussed the future of Taiwan, human rights in China, and global competition but appeared to reach no new ground on any of the issues.
“He was clear, and I was clear that we’ll defend American interests and values, promote universal human rights, and stand up for the international order, working in lockstep with our allies and partners.”
White House Journalist AssaultedMoments before Biden and Xi were set to hold their discussion, a White House TV producer shouted a question to Biden, asking if the president would raise concerns about China’s human rights abuses in Xinjiang and elsewhere. A member of the Chinese delegation immediately grabbed the journalist and shoved her toward the exit in an attempt to forcibly remove her from the room. White House aides physically intervened and said the woman should be allowed to stay.
AFP White House reporter Sebastian Smith filed a travel report detailing the issue.
“Right at the end as we were being ushered out, the pool TV producer called out to President Biden, asking whether he would raise human rights during the talks," Smith wrote. "Instantly, a man from the Chinese side (he was wearing a white COVID mask with a Chinese flag on it) yanked the producer backward by the backpack. She lost balance without falling and was pushed toward the door. Two White House staff members intervened, saying the producer should be left alone.”
Diverging Talking Points on Rights, TaiwanAfter the meeting, Biden responded to a question about Xi’s increasing reliance on such authoritarian tactics. Biden said Xi was the same as he has always been.
“I didn’t find him more confrontational or more conciliatory,” Biden said of Xi. “I found him the way he’s always been: direct and straightforward.
“We were very blunt with one another about places where we disagreed or where we were uncertain of each other’s position.”
Notably, the White House stated that Biden raised concerns about the CCP’s human rights abuses in Xinjiang, Tibet, and Hong Kong, although the CCP’s readout of the meeting didn't mention any discussion of human rights.
Likewise, there was apparent disagreement on the issue of Taiwan, which the CCP claims is a rogue province of China that must be united with the mainland.
Biden said the United States is committed to maintaining peaceful cross-strait relations and that neither Washington nor Beijing should attempt to unilaterally change the status quo regarding Taiwan.
Far from promoting peace and stability, the CCP’s readout of the meeting said there could be no peace with an independent Taiwan.
“Cross-Strait peace and stability and ‘Taiwan independence’ are as irreconcilable as water and fire."