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China Hails Xi-Biden Meeting Despite ‘Dictator’ Remark

The picture of Xi Jinping and Joe Biden on a stroll in a Californian country estate continues headlining Chinese media a day after what Beijing has hailed as a “historic” summit.

People’s Daily, the biggest state-run newspaper, called the four-hour bilateral a “new starting point” for China-US relations.

On social media, many Chinese are calling for a “win-win” relationship.

It was the first time the two presidents had met since November 2022.

The highly anticipated meeting came after US-China relations had hit a particularly low point. The spy balloon row in February further derailed ties that had already been strained by China’s claims over Taiwan and the South China Sea, and US export bans on advanced tech.

A string of visits to Beijing by senior US officials this year sought to repair the damage – and Thursday’s meeting on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation summit was seen as a breakthrough in itself.

There were some wins. The two sides agreed to resume military communications and work together to combat the flow of fentanyl into the US. But the sticking points remained too – from the so-called chip wars to thornier issues such as Taiwan. Towards the end of a solo press conference, Mr Biden repeated his view that Mr Xi is a dictator, while answering a question.

China’s foreign ministry called the remark “irresponsible political manipulation” but it doesn’t appear to have soured Beijing’s portrayal of the meeting.

State broadcaster China Central Television allocated almost two-thirds of its daily evening news bulletin to the Chinese president’s outing in San Francisco, with about 15 minutes devoted to the Biden-Xi meeting and another 15 minutes to Mr Xi’s speech at a gala reception with prominent American business leaders later that night.

“The meeting was positive, comprehensive and constructive… It would be a new starting point for stabilising relations between China and the US,” the presenter said, reading from the same article that had been published on People’s Daily earlier.

In an attempt to portray the meeting as putting fraught relations back on course, CCTV showed footage of Mr Xi being “warmly greeted” by his US counterpart upon his arrival at the Filoli Estate, the country house near San Francisco where they met.

“Biden also invited Xi to join him for a walk around the estate and personally escorted him to his car [at the end of the meeting],” wrote People’s Daily.

Touting “extensive achievements” from the meeting, a Global Times editorial on Friday wrote: “We should make the cooperation list longer and the pie of cooperation bigger. Only by doing so can China-US relations be steered toward a healthy, stable, and sustainable direction.”

Chinese state media’s tone on the US had already shifted earlier this week – quite abruptly – in the lead-up to the long-awaited meeting. The usual anti-US rhetoric was paused as outlets instead pushed messages emphasising engagement and cooperation.

State news agency Xinhua on Monday published a story on Mr Xi’s friendships with American people. “The enduring strength of such amicable bonds has always served as a wellspring of vitality for bilateral ties, both in favourable and in challenging times,” said the piece, which was accompanied by a dozen pictures of Mr Xi’s visits to the US.

The sudden shift in tone was not lost on everyone: “Love or hate – the difference is just a moment,” a user wrote on Chinese social media platform Weibo.

Others were posting scene-by-scene updates from the meeting, with several hashtags related to it trending throughout the day.

The hashtag “the US reiterates it doesn’t support Taiwan independence” dominated Weibo for several hours. Other hashtags highlighted engagements between the two leaders. Users seemed excited over personal details such as Mr Xi being presented a Golden State Warriors’ jersey, Mr Biden walking Mr Xi to his made-in-China Hongqi car and describing the vehicle as “beautiful”.

“This [meeting] is a historic moment,” one Weibo user wrote, while another struck a cautionary tone: “I hope the US can act on their words.”

Some reacted with disbelief and amusement to Mr Biden’s “dictator” remark, although it was swiftly cut from official broadcasts within China.

“If he said ‘Xi is China’s emperor’ Xi would have loved it,” another user quipped on X, which is banned in China.

Source : BBC