5 things Biden must say in his talks with Xi

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Russian humiliation in Ukraine the last thing China wants: James Carafano

Heritage Foundation vice president discusses if China would risk getting involved in Russia’s war on Ukraine on ‘Your World.’

Don’t get your hopes up, but President Biden will hold a call with China’s President Xi Jinping on Friday to talk about Ukraine and other matters. As you know, China signed a $117 billion oil and gas deal with Russia on Feb. 4 and gave tacit support for Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.

Is China sorry? Apparently not. The U.S. and NATO are still the “culprits of the crisis” in Ukraine, China’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Zshao Lijian charged on Thursday.

However, Beijing was surprised by Ukraine’s fierce resistance and Russia’s military blunders. The Ukraine crisis has “reached a stage that Chinese side does not want to see,” official Yang Jiechi delicately admitted after meeting with U.S. National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan in Rome on Monday.

(AP/Getty Images)

It’s hard to say if China would help pressure ally Putin to stop his barbaric war on Ukraine. Remember, anything Biden says to Xi will also get to Putin. With that in mind, here are five messages Biden must send to Xi – and one topic I hope Biden won’t bring up.  

1) “Putin must fail.” – Priority one for this meeting isn’t trade; this is Biden’s chance to deliver the strong message that invading neighbors and nuclear blackmail won’t work. Biden must make clear to Xi Jinping that America is committed to “making sure Ukraine will never be a victory for Putin,” as Biden said from the White House Wednesday. Or as British Prime Minister Boris Johnson put it earlier: “Putin must fail and be seen to fail.” Remember, what Biden says to Xi will get back to Putin, fast.

2) “Don’t help Putin or mess with the Russia sanctions.” – After his “intense, candid” meeting in Rome, Sullivan said, “We have communicated to Beijing that we will not stand by and allow any country to compensate Russia for its losses from the economic sanctions.” Biden should drive that point home to Xi in plain language. The same goes for military equipment.

“If China does choose to materially support Russia in this war, there will likely be consequences for China in that regard,” a senior U.S. defense official said on a call with reporters on Monday. Biden should make that point, too.

  3) “Taiwan is a sovereign nation and America will defend Taiwan if you attack.” – China’s military threat to Taiwan grew all year until Russia’s war knocked it out of the headlines.  Biden should tell Xi that given China’s support for the Russian invasion of Ukraine, America’s policy of “strategic ambiguity” for Taiwan is no longer enough.  Now is the time for direct recognition of Taiwan and full military support.  Taiwan is a thriving free-market democracy with 23 million people.  It’s not acceptable for China to seize it just because they couldn’t back in 1949.

Let’s hope Biden can make the Ukraine crisis into a stark warning for China.

4) “I’m planning a visit to Taiwan and more arms sales.” – Okay, it’s not on the White House calendar, but let China stew on the idea of a Biden visit.  Biden did dispatch five senior statesmen including former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Mike Mullen and former Defense Undersecretary Michel Flournoy to Taiwan earlier this month.  Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo visited Taiwan, too.  Biden should come bearing gifts.  President Donald J. Trump resumed defensive arms sales to Taiwan and Biden has wisely continued them.  Sales should increase.  Let’s not go slow arming Taiwan as we did with Ukraine.

5) “I’m cutting back on Chinese student visas.” – Biden should make China feel some direct pain for supporting Russia. Last year 317,229 Chinese students were enrolled at American colleges and universities, up from 157,558 in 2010. A lot of them get caught stealing American science and trade secrets. Instead of leading to friendships, the student visa program has led to espionage. Denying student visas is long overdue.

Finally, here’s the one topic I don’t want Biden to raise with Xi Jinping: climate change.

China is a climate monster. China generates 28% of the planet’s yearly carbon dioxide emissions and won’t even start to cut back carbon emissions until 2030. Team Biden has already wasted too much international political capital chasing climate accords. It needs to be off the table until there’s a cease-fire in Ukraine.

Biden’s made a number of bad policy decisions on China, such as reversing the ban on TikTok, ending the Justice Department’s program to root out Chinese spies in universities, and giving China’s solar panel imports a loophole. Let’s hope Biden can make the Ukraine crisis into a stark warning for China.

The U.S. can’t let China conclude that they can invade a neighbor and use nuclear blackmail to sideline America.

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