Biden, Xi Try to Budge Each Other for 2 Hours

Chinese leader stays noncommittal but says they should work for peace
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 18, 2022 5:35 PM CDT
Biden Pushes Xi on Helping Russia
President Biden meets virtually in the Situation Room of the White House with China’s Xi Jinping on Friday.   (The White House via AP)

President Biden took his effort to dissuade China from helping Russia with its invasion of Ukraine to the top on Friday, holding a video meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping for nearly two hours. Biden detailed the "implications and consequences" of providing military or economic support to Russia, the Washington Post reports, "as it conducts brutal attacks against Ukrainian cities and civilians," according to a White House statement. Administration officials did not specify to reporters what the consequences would be, however. China's official broadcaster reported that Xi told Biden their goal should be peace, per the New York Times.

The Ukraine fighting "is something we don't want to see," Xi reportedly said, though neither side said he committed to anything. China has cast itself as neutral in the war, per the Hill, and it's being pressured by the US to denounce Russia's actions. China and Russia have become closer allies recently; the Western sanctions leave China as one of the few countries where Russia could find major support, possibly affecting the outcome of the fight. Although Xi's statements about peace could be taken as reassuring to the US, and the White House called the talks substantive and direct, administration officials were not satisfied that China will stay out.

"We have that concern," White House press secretary Jen Psaki said, per CNN. US officials would not say how Xi reacted to Biden's warnings. US and Chinese officials will keep talking, and Biden will raise China's position at a snap NATO summit scheduled for next week in Brussels. In other calls Friday, French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz pushed Russian President Vladimir Putin to stop the attacks on Ukraine. The lobbying effort seemed to go nowhere, per the Times. (More Russia-Ukraine war stories.)

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