Xi appears to have had the upper-hand in his phone call with Biden

President Joe Biden’s recent telephone conversation with Chinese President Xi Jinping has many wondering who exactly is calling the shots here. 

We’ll give you a hint: it doesn’t seem to be Biden.

The phone call

Biden and Xi spoke for nearly two hours on Friday, CNBC reports. The subject of the conversation was the ongoing Russia-Ukraine conflict.

CNBC reports:

Both Biden and Xi agreed on the need to promote peace and assist with the humanitarian disaster created by the invasion. But they disagreed deeply on who is responsible for the suffering in Ukraine, with the Chinese leader refusing to hold Russia singularly accountable for the unprovoked invasion.

Based on the readout from the phone call, Xi blamed Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on the same thing that Russia claims justifies its invasion, namely, the West’s attempt to make Ukraine a part of NATO. This is an argument that the West has rejected, arguing that Ukraine still had several steps to take before even getting to the point of being able to join NATO.

Xi, though, wasn’t having it. He told Biden that he stands for peace, and for adhering to international law, including the charters established by the United Nations.

Xi further called for the U.S. and NATO to “jointly support Russia and Ukraine in having a dialogue” to end the war.

Weakness on full displace

During the telephone conversation, Biden did attempt to be strict with Xi. The White House, for example, says that Biden “described the implications and consequences if China provides material support to Russia.”

But, it doesn’t appear that Xi was too phased by the warning.

The Biden administration didn’t help itself when, following the Biden-Xi phone call, it was asked for an example of the line that China would have to cross to face some of these consequences. The State Department essentially refused to answer the question.

“I wouldn’t want to get into any hypotheticals,” State Department spokesperson Jalina Porter said. “What we have done is we’ve encouraged our allies and partners and the international community to band together to condemn this senseless war that Russia has gotten itself into. I have nothing else here at this time.”

It’s clear that Russia and China, among other bad actors, know that the U.S. and weak under Biden’s leadership. And, it’s also clear that they are trying to take advantage of the situation.