Opinion: China Aims to Humiliate Biden — With Xi’s Economy in Tatters, He Needs a Win

President Joe Biden’s growing cognitive impairment is only one reason to dread his meeting today with communist President Xi Jinping of China in San Francisco. Another reason is mounting evidence that he is compromised. If the president and his family accepted millions of dollars from government-tied Chinese entities, as it appears they did, it is a near certainty Xi knows of the transactions. They can be used to “persuade” the president to adopt the Communist party line. 

Former President Donald Trump described the situation best: “We have a guy in the White House who can’t put two sentences together, who couldn’t find his way off this stage. And this is the guy we have negotiating with … President Xi of China.”

At the minimum, Biden is likely to avoid challenging Xi on Beijing’s critical role in poisoning tens of thousands of Americans yearly with fentanyl or their ongoing support of Iran-backed Hamas.

Instead of hammering the Chinese president over his financing of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s war crimes in Ukraine, the planned spy base in Cuba, or his lies about the Covid-19 virus’ origins in Wuhan, the president will stick to safe ground, like begging President Xi to expand his country’s commitment to climate change. 

Xi will respond with clichés and continue building coal-fired plants rapidly. In response, Biden will commit the U.S. to further damaging regulations of our own carbon emissions. 

President Biden can’t afford to ruffle Xi, who is notoriously touchy. Instead, Xi will use the whole summit to serve the dictator’s need to demonstrate he has more power than Biden. 

How do we know this is how the conversations will go? Well, if the past is any indication, this was the script the last time the two leaders met, a year ago in Bali. The White House’s meeting recap highlighted the president’s push for climate change cooperation. 

Biden also emphasized the U.S. “opposes any unilateral changes to the status quo” regarding Taiwan. However, he approached other hot topics indirectly, only mildly criticizing Beijing’s “non-market economic practices” and raised “Russia’s brutal war against Ukraine and Russia’s irresponsible threats of nuclear use.”

What are “non-market economic practices?” Those would be cyber hacking, trampling international trade rules, and stealing critical patents.

The humiliation has already begun, with China keeping the White House walking on eggshells for weeks about whether the meeting would occur. As numerous officials in the U.S. pressed for the summit, Biden looked desperate, precisely what China wanted.

President Xi must look like the winner in his relationship with the United States. The dictator has forcibly taken control of the Chinese economy, and it hasn’t been going well. Fearing the powerful, emerging business class who could threaten his dominance, Xi cracked down on wealthy Chinese and tech entrepreneurs. He also orchestrated a devastating Covid shutdown, alarming his citizens. Consumer spending has still not recovered.

The growth in China slowed dramatically, with foreign firms fleeing the country and exports falling for the first time in modern history. In the second quarter, direct investments by foreign companies into the communist country lost 87% compared to the previous year, the most significant drop since 1998.

In 2022, household wealth in China dropped for the first time in two decades. Youth unemployment has reached record highs, and consumer sentiment is in the gutter. Due to the long-time one-child policy, China’s problems will be compounded in the upcoming years by the approaching decline in population.

President Xi also delivered a crucial blow against his country’s property development industry, which had fueled decades of growth and grown to around 30% of the economy. In 2021, Xi announced, “Housing is for living in and not for speculation,” and turned a real estate boom into a bust. The government is now pulling out all stops to revive the rapidly deflating sector.

Xi is desperate for a win, and showing up President Biden will suffice.

The White House has set low expectations for the San Francisco meeting, telling reporters, “We’re not talking about a long list of outcomes or deliverables.” Biden is expected to reopen military-to-military communications, which is deemed essential when considering the 180-plus times Chinese aircraft have interfered with U.S. aircraft since late 2021, equaling more than the recorded numbers for the entire previous decade. It was the goal of U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s trip to China in June, but he was rebuffed.

The White House wants to appear “tough” on China by possibly adopting various measures designed to lessen our reliance on China. Last year, the president banned exports of crucial semiconductor chips essential to producing AI and military goods. Restrictions have been quickly rendered impotent as Nvidia found a way to design around the roadblocks.

This describes the administration in a nutshell. Timid, ineffectual, and uncertain — just like President Biden.