Conversation Biden and Xi: ‘Grijns disappeared when it was about human rights’

US President Joe Biden and his counterpart Xi Jinping of China talked to each other for a few hours last night via a video link.CCeit correspondents Lucas Waagmeester and Sjoerd den Daas say that this conversation should be a first step towards better rapport. are, but there are different interests.

Before the cameras had to go, there was a brief greeting:

When the cameras were on, Biden emphasized the good personal relationship he says he has with Xi Jinping. โ€œThey remember each other from the Obama era, says China correspondent Sjoerd den Daas in the CCeit Radio 1 Journal. โ€œXi heard you say they were good friends, albeit a little more reserved. It went on about climate change in which they want to move together.โ€

Biden called China a major leader in the world, as the United States is. โ€œXi could appreciate that, was smirking. But when Biden opened up about responsible leadership and how he thinks it should be filled out, that smirk disappeared slightly. Then it was about human rights, the economy, and a free and open South China Sea.โ€

According to America correspondent Waagmeester, both leaders do not revolve around the long list of conflicting interests, such as the influence in the South China Sea, where the Americans are solidifying their military force. โ€œBut also about trade tariffs and the American accusation that the Chinese do not comply with trade agreements. And about the climate: Biden called it a โ€œbig mistakeโ€ that Xi didn‘t go to the Glasgow climate summit.โ€

For Washington, it’s about finding rapport, says Waagmeester. โ€œBiden wants to turn all the attention away from the Middle East, Russia, the departure from Afghanistan to focus the full foreign policy on China. That country is the big competitor of the next century in the eyes of Biden.โ€

What is also important to Xi is that he is seen as a statesman standing up for everything that China considers important, says Den Daas. โ€œThat he hits the table with the fist and stands up to accusations by America when it comes to Xinjiang, where millions of Uyghurs are oppressed, and the depletion of freedoms in Hong Kong. These are moments where Xi can show: we determine what happens here.โ€

Biden wants a relationship with China of strong competition but not conflict, says Waagmeester. He wants a relationship where he can really say what he thinks about human rights in China about the persecution of minorities in Xinjiang and Tibet, about Hong Kong and the pressure on Taiwan. Biden says that conversation needs to be held. If that‘s negotiable, then you can solve other problems, says Biden. It’s locked up until then.โ€

Cold War Rhetoric

Whether something really tangible comes out of the conversation, the Chinese don‘t expect, Den Daas thinks. โ€œBeijing hopes that Trump’s trade tariffs can be pushed off the table, but I doubt that has already happened during this conversation. There is also hope that people get out of that Cold War rhetoric and know a little better where they stand in the competition, but there is no one who thinks that the weather will be completely cake and egg between the two countries.โ€