Biden Jabs Xi Over Rights


Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping officially began his visit to the U.S. Tuesday, and was met with some robust criticism from Barack Obama and especially U.S. Vice President Joe Biden.

As I mentioned during Obama’s State of the Union, “fairness” was a common thread on the economy, including concerning trade with China. That was no different earlier today as Obama said the U.S. welcomes China’s peaceful rise, but that it also expects it to play a responsible – and fair – role commensurate with its growing status.

“And so we want to work with China to make sure that everybody is working by the same rules of the road when it comes to the world economic system, and that includes ensuring that there is a balanced trade flow between not only the United States and China, but around world,” he said.

But it was Biden that had the most robust criticism for Xi, especially on human rights. I’ll quote at some length, because Biden’s criticism marks an interesting departure in U.S. tone compared with when Obama first came to office – a tone that saw him take significant flak for being soft on China, especially on human rights.

Noting that few other countries have come so far and so fast as China, Biden first picked up on the fairness theme.

“As Americans, we welcome competition. It’s part of our DNA and it propels our citizens to rise to the challenge,” Biden said. “But cooperation, as you and I have spoken about, can only be mutually beneficial if the game is fair.  That’s why the meetings we’ve had this morning were essentially a continuation of the multiple meetings we had in your country in August, and we spent a great deal of time discussing the areas of our greatest concern, including the need to rebalance the global economy, to protect intellectual property rights and trade secrets, to address China’s undervalued exchange rate, to level the competitive playing field and to prevent the forced transfer of technology, and to continue a constructive dialogue on policies that would benefit our citizens and the world.”

Biden went on, rightly, to take China to task for its decision to vote against a U.N. resolution condemning the Assad regime for the “unconscionable violence” it is perpetrating against its own citizens in Syria, before tackling China’s treatment of its own citizens.

“[We] see our advocacy for human rights as a fundamental aspect of our foreign policy and we believe a key to the prosperity and stability of all societies.  We have been clear about our concern over the areas in which from our perspective conditions in China have deteriorated and about the plight of several very prominent individuals.”

But while Biden offered specific points of contention, Xi’s defense, perhaps unsurprisingly, relied on somewhat vague generalities and pledges to do better – but in China’s own time.

“I stressed that China has made tremendous and well-recognized achievements in the field of human rights over the past 30 plus years since reform and opening up,” Xi said of his discussions with Obama and Biden. “Of course, there is always room for improvement when it comes to human rights. “Given China’s huge population, considerable regional diversity, and uneven development, we’re still faced with many challenges in improving people’s livelihood and advancing human rights.”

Despite his government’s intensified crackdown on dissidents, including the detention of high-profile activists like artist Ai Weiwei, Xi insisted the Chinese government “will always put people’s interests first and take seriously people’s aspirations and demands.  We will, in the light of China’s national conditions, continue to take concrete and effective policies and measures to promote social fairness, justice and harmony, and push forward China’s course of human rights.”

Xi added that China is ready to conduct candid and constructive dialogue and exchanges on human rights with the U.S. and other countries on the basis of equality and “mutual respect.” In diplomatic parlance “mutual respect” means “respecting our right to do as we please.” Still, it was worth raising the issue in such a robust way.

February 18, 2012 at 00:32

Like Chou advised Kissinger on Mao, Joe already told Xi to ignore his and congress’ remarks.

“Xi, you know, we always put out foot into our mouth. So, smile and enjoy.”

February 16, 2012 at 18:37

Yes. I read that news too. Elite CCP leaders keep hitting new low. I wonder how low can they go. I hope US security guards really carefully inspect every Chinese staffs including Xi – to make sure they don’t steal anything from Pentagon, WH and State Department.

John Chan
February 16, 2012 at 14:25

Chinese government act in according with its own laws, and everything it does is legal just like any nation in the world. Ranting mindlessly is detrimental to the world peace and prosperity, as well as poisoning the environment of this site for bloggers to exchange opinions constructively.

Mr T
February 16, 2012 at 08:32

And didn’t you hear that? Xi said the US should allow more hi-tech exports to China, so CCP and PLA could copy. These guys are just a bunch of shameless people.

February 16, 2012 at 04:36

Yes, lets trust the chinese, what have they ever done to earn our distrust? everything the chinese government does is illegal, they steal everyone else’s technology, then use it against their enemies. lets not forget the poison laced food and toys, when they are caught the execute some fall guy and know that there are No consequences to their actions.

February 16, 2012 at 00:56

@John Chan
China continues to receive US financial aid up to this day let alone 30+ years ago

“…harmless nation like China”
PLA are behind cyber attacks into Pentagon, US commerce. Bully smaller nations. Kill other nation’s fishermen. How harmless is it?

John Chan
February 16, 2012 at 00:28

USA is in the business of imperialism, not in the business of charity, and USA does not give out free lunch. Claiming credits where it is not due, is a shameless behaviour, and smear a nation lends it most money is the behaviour of rogue nation.

USA has citizen like you with blinding hate toward a harmless nation like China, and claimed treating China with open arm, if it is not totally contradiction in terms then it is outright lie. As the old folks said “with such friend who needs enemy.”

Oro Invictus
February 15, 2012 at 18:54

Oh dear, I do believe that if I’d been at that dinner I would have had an aneurism. Between the White House trumpeting of “fairness” and its utter failure to understand the incompatibility of interpersonal competition with cooperation, alongside Xi’s fumbling soliloquies that so eloquently prove that the PRC has absolutely no defense for its violations of human rights, I think I’d rather be stuck at Sandia, listening to another bloody politician blare on about “profitability” and “political sensitivity”.

I digress, however; overall, things could have gone much worse, though I suspect not much more so in the case of Xi, who will now have to return to the Standing Committee and explain why he faltered under Biden and Obama. Really, while his exact leanings (reformist, hard-liner, or yes-man) are still unknown, I must admit I feel somewhat sorry for him; he was put in the position of defending the indefensible, something none of those other draconian malefactors could possibly do. Still, this has been most enlightening in understanding the current state of internal party affairs, and may suggest a greater degree of internal schism than I had anticipated. Indeed, if Xi could, despite the massive amount of manpower the PRC foreign department dedicated to ensuring he served as a tool to project party power, give no more than a half-hearted series of stock-and-barrel replies, then it seems the party line is not as congruous as it once was.

Likewise, Xi’s apparent inability to reassure economists and such about the PRC’s trade practices also indicates a fair amount more economic disarray than commonly thought. Mind you, this is not to say all of the accusations leveled by the White House were “fair” per say; while violations of WTO trade practices (tariffs, manipulation of export quotas, artificial currency devaluation, technology theft [either through espionage or the illegal practice of requiring technology transfer for foreign companies], etc.) are legitimate, many of the other complaints (in particular the nonsense statistics cited by the MPAA and such about profits lost due to piracy) were utter bollocks. I swear, if they wanted to improve the global economy and degree of innovation they would be FAR better served by repealing copyright laws and providing subsidies for innovation; I know, it would require a degree of rationality and consensus unseen on the international (or even national) scale, but I can still hope.

February 15, 2012 at 18:35

Absolutely John Chan. With all proven facts (China IP thefts, counterfeit products, human rights violation, bully smaller nations, peace disturbing, currency manipulator and etc), as a start, USA should:
- declare China is a hostile foreign state
- kick China out of WTO and UN
- sanction China

FYI, USA treated China with open arm 30+ years ago. China really took advantages of American by asking for lots of free bees by one of your founding father Dang Xiaoping. I hope US congress learn the lesson.

John Chan
February 15, 2012 at 17:37

China’s foreign office must be stuffed with the moles of the CIA payouts. Xi was not prepared to ask meaningful questions in response to Biden’s hypocritical stance on human rights. Xi could ask Biden the following questions regarding the abuse of human rights on the American people.
1. Why does the richest nation in the world insist on child labour is the solution to its 1.5 million homeless children?
2. Why is there 50 million of Americans without health insurance who cannot see doctors for their cancers and other sickness?
3. Why are there tent cities spurring up all over the USA because homeless shelters are overwhelmed?
4. Why does not USA take care of its 13 million unemployed with unemployment benefits?
5. Why there are 3 million more unemployed under Obama/Biden’s administration?
6. Why does the USA insist tax cut to the rich a solution to the American poor?

These are easily available information in the public; Xi can advocate compassion on behalf of the American poor who are silenced by the prevailing heartless financial egoistic neocon mentality in the USA.

Nan Yang
February 15, 2012 at 17:27

Talk about poor hospitality. Nothing beats the Screaming lady interupting a head of state speech inside another head of state White House lawn. Such “excellant” hospitality.

Leonard R.
February 15, 2012 at 16:13


Good point.

I wish they had come along.

February 15, 2012 at 15:59

Joe Biden said the following too: “I hope we can match the extraordinary hospitality that the Vice President showed me in my four-day visit to China last August”

Hard to match hospitality, as the Bayi Rockets baketball team did not accompany Xi for a return match with the team of the Georgetown University.

John Chan
February 15, 2012 at 14:17

@Leonard R,
You need to address your comment to DownRedChina who is bitter and whinning to no end.

Leonard R.
February 15, 2012 at 12:50

So the US invites him to Washington and when he sits down, the hosts insult him.
Maybe that is better than him coming to a state dinner and insulting America.
But it is bad manners and ineffective diplomacy.

I am tired of hearing Americans whine about ‘fairness’.
Life is unfair. Stop whining and defend yourselves.

Americans have become the whiners of the world.
They used top be a nation of warriors & winners.
They have become a nation of whiny-babies.

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