President Biden pulled back the curtain on one of his telephone conversations with General Secretary Xi Jinping, saying in an interview that he highlighted the massive U.S. corporate withdrawal from Russia as something that might be in China’s future.
Biden spoke yesterday with PBS’s Judy Woodruff following his Tuesday State of the Union address. When Woodruff asked if U.S.–China relations have taken a big hit as a result of the Chinese espionage balloon that floated over the U.S. and Washington’s response, Biden simply said, “No.” Pressed on this by Woodruff, he said that his previous conversations with Xi have convinced him that the incident hasn’t materially worsened relations and that he had not spoken with Xi while the balloon was in U.S. airspace.
“I mean, the idea of shooting down a balloon that’s gathering information over America and, that makes relations worse?” he said. “Look, I made it real clear to Xi Jinping that we’re going to compete fully with China, but we’re not looking for conflict. And that’s been the case so far. “
Biden then reiterated his ad-libbed comment from the State of the Union that not a single world leader would want to trade spots with Xi, given the Chinese economy’s massive problems.
He then told Woodruff that he advised Xi to consider what happened to Russia in the aftermath of the invasion of Ukraine.
“As a matter of fact I called him this summer to say this is not a threat, just an observation: Look what’s happened to Russia. Six hundred American corporations have pulled out of Russia from McDonald’s to Exxon,” Biden said. He continued:
And I said, You’ve told me all along that the reason why you need a relationship with the United States in Europe is so they invest in China. So who’s going to invest in China if you engage in the same kind of deal? You notice there’s not been much going on there.
Biden and Xi spoke over the phone on July 28. The official White House summary of their conversation says that they “discussed a range of issues important to the bilateral relationship.”