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Analysts Say Biden Had Bigger Wins Than Xi From Summit

An academic and journalists from England and Foreign Policy magazine agreed that President Joe Biden got more out of the meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping than Xi did.

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Evan Medeiros, a distinguished fellow in U.S.-China Studies at Georgetown University, said on a Foreign Policy webinar analyzing the summit that "Biden gave very little and got a lot."

The primary win for the U.S. was a promised crackdown on precursor chemicals used to manufacture synthetic opiates. Medeiros said there are 50 to 60 of these chemicals, making it harder to prevent their export than it is to prevent the export of fentanyl. However, he said, "Their intention to act on this seems pretty serious."

Foreign Policy Deputy Editor James Palmer agreed with other panelists at the Nov. 17 webinar that "this was a win for the Biden administration." He said China "got a small win" when the Bureau of Industry and Security removed the Ministry of Public Security’s Institute of Forensic Science of China from its Entity List (see 2311160003). It was added to the list because of its links to the suppression of Uyghurs.

Palmer said "China cares a lot about the Xinjiang sanctions regime" for ideological reasons, not business reasons.

The panelists talked about the views of U.S. businesses on opportunities to export to or operate in China.

Medeiros said as barriers to doing business in China have grown, attitudes have shifted from enthusiastic to ambivalent, or even to frustrated.

Some sectors continue to thrive in trade with China, he said, but "the U.S. business community is pretty divided" on China. He said business confidence in China has taken a huge hit. However, trade in goods between the two countries continues to be enormous -- $700 billion last year.

Palmer noted that foreign direct investment in China has plummeted in the last year. He said Xi's tone at the summit, with his emphasis on friendship with America, won't make as much of a difference as how Chinese authorities treat American businesses in the country over the next six months.

Medeiros said the meeting came about because both sides want stability. However, he said, the pressures in the relationship are still there, and the deep reasons for deterioration in relations are still there. He said the next time the U.S. expands export controls on China, "the Chinese are not going to be happy and they’re going to react."