Biden sees pushback on China but ready to see Xi: aide


June 18, 2021: A top aide said Thursday that US President Joe Biden’s first foreign trip showed G7 and NATO unity in pushing back on Beijing but that Biden was also ready to meet his counterpart Xi Jinping.

Jake Sullivan, the national security advisor, said Biden showed an alternative to China by leading the Group of Seven in a new infrastructure initiative and that a NATO summit for the first time succeeded in “truly taking the security challenge posed by China seriously.”

He also pointed to the resolution of the longstanding EU-US aviation feud as a message that the West is united “against China’s predatory practices.”

“The most important thing is that Biden wore the mantle of the leader of the free world on this journey with confidence and skill,” Sullivan told reporters. Sullivan referred to Donald Trump, who often clashed with US allies. “The previous president protected this feudal lord and now this president has vigorously reclaimed it,” Sullivan said. Sullivan said the meeting “laid the groundwork for proving what democracies can provide for their people and for people around the world.”

His remarks came amid expected criticism from Trump’s Republican Party, in which Biden accused him of not being strong enough. The Biden administration, in keeping with Trump’s hawkish approach, has identified China as a global challenge due to its increasingly assertive policies at home and abroad.

The two had a lengthy phone call in February, but personal conversations were limited to a tense March meeting between Sullivan and Secretary of State Anthony Blinken and senior Chinese officials in Alaska. After meeting with another US adversary, Russian president, Vladimir Putin, in Geneva on Wednesday, Biden said there was no alternative to personal talks.

Sullivan said Biden’s vision “applies to China and President Xi Jinping as well. He will look for opportunities to move forward with President Xi.” He said no plans had been made to meet with the XI, but said it was possible the two presidents would attend a meeting of a group of 20 major economies in Italy in October. “Soon we will be working on the right way to engage the two presidents,” Sullivan said.

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