President Biden has scheduled a meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping at the November G-20 summit in Indonesia.
“If he’s there, I’m sure I’ll see him,” Biden told reporters at a White House Cabinet meeting, confirming his own RSVP to the Nov. 15-16 forum in Bali.
In-person meetings offer leaders an opportunity to smooth over bilateral rifts and build common ground.
Former President Donald Trump, for example, hosted Xi in 2017 at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida and boasted of developing a strong working relationship with the Chinese leader over the “most beautiful piece of chocolate cake you’ve ever seen.”
But the possible Biden-Xi summit would occur after a serious downturn in relations caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and Trump’s tariffs on Chinese goods.
Xi’s government refuses to cooperate with investigations into whether the COVID-19 pandemic, which has killed more than 1 million Americans, began with a lab leak in the Chinese city of Wuhan. Beijing also reportedly broke off cooperation with the US last month on curtailing illegal fentanyl exports, which drove a record 107,000 American drug overdose deaths last year.
Biden is considering lifting Trump’s tariffs on Chinese goods, which were applied in a bid to force a trade deal limiting Beijing’s support to local industries, while the White House continues a long-running review of whether to ban Chinese-owned social media network TikTok, which is among the most popular platforms among young Americans.
A potential summit would also follow Chinese saber-rattling over House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s August visit to Taiwan, which Biden publicly discouraged — as well as the sanctioning of Chinese officials, beginning under Trump, over the Chinese Communist Party’s elimination of Hong Kong’s political autonomy and the mistreatment of ethnic Uyghurs in northwestern China.
Biden routinely reminisces about his meetings with Xi during Biden’s vice presidency, which ended in 2017, but he has not yet met with his Chinese counterpart since taking office in 2021.
The Biden family has significant — and possibly ongoing — financial links to the Chinese government.
Chinese energy company CEFC paid first son Hunter Biden and first brother Jim Biden $4.8 million in 2017 and 2018, according to the Washington Post.
Former Hunter Biden business partner Tony Bobulinski alleged one month before the 2020 election that Joe Biden was directly involved with the CEFC deal before launching his presidential campaign.
Bobulinski said that he spoke with the future president in May 2017 about the project and claimed that Joe Biden was the “big guy” described in an email the same month as being due a 10% stake in the initiative. A different business associate, James Gilliar, also identified Joe Biden as the “big guy.”
Emails show that in September 2017, Hunter Biden asked for a new sign and more keys to an office he was renting in DC’s House of Sweden office building. The sign was to say, “The Biden Foundation and Hudson West (CEFC-US)” and the keys were for his father, Jill and Jim Biden, and a Chinese executive named Gongwen Dong. A spokeswoman for the agency that oversees the property said, however, that the sign was not changed and the keys weren’t picked up.
Hunter Biden is under federal investigation for potential crimes linked to his overseas influence-peddling, including tax fraud, money laundering, and unregistered foreign lobbying. He recently paid the IRS about $2 million in back taxes.
In a separate Biden family enterprise in China, Hunter Biden co-founded the investment firm BHR Partners in 2013, about two weeks after flying with his father to Beijing aboard Air Force Two.
Hunter even introduced Joe Biden to BHR CEO Jonathan Li in the lobby of a hotel in China’s capital.
BHR partners are controlled in part by Chinese state-owned entities and facilitated the 2016 sale for $3.8 billion of a Congolese cobalt mine from a US company to the firm China Molybdenum. Cobalt is a key component in electric car batteries.
Hunter Biden’s attorney Chris Clark said less than a week after President Biden’s November 2021 virtual summit with Xi that the first son had divested his 10% stake in BHR, but Hunter Biden and the White House provided no further details and online records indicate that the first son still owns the 10% stake.