Vice President Biden’s trip to China would have been as forgettable as most high-level U.S.-China dialogues were it not for the Beijing Brawl and the Press-Conference Pusher, which revealed the biggest challenge we face in dealing with China: its attitude. When the People’s Liberation Army basketball team started stomping on Georgetown University players after what even a casual fan could see was the most biased officiating since Roy Jones Jr. was robbed of a gold medal in boxing at the 1988 Seoul Olympics, the imperative for the Chinese to humble their visitors was evident. Just as egregiously, Chinese security officials started physically shoving foreign reporters and then White House and U.S. Embassy staff out of the conference room where Biden was giving his prepared — and hence expected — remarks along with Xi Jinping, the putative next leader of China.
The optics of the trip now set, the rest of Biden’s visit only confirmed in the eyes of some the relative decline of the United States and rise of China. One Asian observer wrote that Biden came as a “supplicant,” not quite the image of building a personal relationship with Xi that the White House had hoped for.
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