Biden-Xi Meeting Falls Flat

President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump pose for a photo with Chinese President Xi Jingping and his wife, Mrs. Peng Liyuan, Thursday, April 6, 2017, at the entrance of Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach, Fl. (Official White Photo by D. Myles Cullen)

President Joe Biden’s lengthy meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping on Monday evening saw “healthy debate,” but – as expected – no major breakthroughs, according to a senior administration official.

The two spoke for three and a half hours, longer than anticipated, and Biden raised a myriad of issues including Taiwan, trade issues, human rights issues, Afghanistan, Iran and the COVID-19 pandemic. The discussion, which began with Xi referring to Biden as “my old friend,” remained “respectful and straightforward” throughout, according to the official.

“The meeting itself was really about the two leaders discussing ways to manage the competition between the United States and China responsibly, and ways to establish guardrails for that competition. And that was a theme throughout the conversation … The conversation was substantial across a broad range of topics and it was substantive on a lot of different pieces,” the official said.

The official dismissed the idea that the meeting was to ease tensions, and made a point to suggest this was not the end result, either. Still, Biden and Xi each broke from their respective scripts throughout the meeting, at times quoting each other’s past comments and recounting stories from the past.

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