Biden Warns Xi: Hands Off U.S. Election!

  • by:
  • Source: Wayne Dupree
  • 04/03/2024
During their Tuesday phone discussion, President Joe Biden cautioned Chinese President Xi Jinping against interfering in the November U.S. election. The White House said the call promotes “open lines of communication to responsibly manage competition and prevent unintended conflict.”

In a Monday briefing previewing the conversation, a senior administration official said the U.S. had elevated its “continual reinforcement of concern” against Chinese electoral involvement. Biden last discussed the subject with Xi in Woodside, California, in November. Beijing has frequently denied interference in U.S. domestic affairs.

“I do not think we ever really take the Chinese at their word when they say they will or will not do something,” the senior administration official said. The point is verification.

In February, a declassified U.S. intelligence threat assessment warned of Beijing's “higher degree of sophistication in its influence activity,” including generative AI. The research warned of “growing efforts to actively exploit perceived U.S. societal divisions” online.

“Spamouflage, a persistent China-linked influence operation, has weaponized U.S. political, economic, and cultural wedge issues in its campaigns,” said Foundation for Defense of Democracies senior analyst Max Lesser.

The Chinese Embassy in Washington spokeswoman, Liu Pengyu, has been rumored to state that China is “committed to the principle of non-interference” and that concerns about Beijing influencing U.S. presidential elections are “completely fabricated.” In its call readout, the White House said the leaders reviewed progress on key issues discussed at the Woodside Summit, including counter-narcotics cooperation to curb fentanyl trafficking and re-establishing military-to-military communication, AI-related risks, climate change, and people-to-people exchanges.

Biden and Xi spoke ahead of a trilateral conference with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. next week. The first “minilateral” meeting will announce a range of ideas, including marine cooperation to resist China's South China Sea aggression. Beijing claims most of the South China Sea, overlapping the Philippines, Vietnam, Taiwan, Malaysia, and Brunei.

China's increased deployment of water cannons against Philippine warships to thwart a Second Thomas Shoal resupply operation worries Washington. The Philippine military has guarded a damaged ship on the shoal since 1999 to retain sovereignty over the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea.

At a Center for Strategic and International Studies briefing Tuesday, Gregory Polling, who guides CSIS' Southeast Asia and Asia Maritime Transparency Initiatives, said that the U.S. “will not stand idly by if this gray zone coercion continues to escalate and potentially leads to the loss of lives of Filipino sailors.”

Grey zone tactics are acts between peace and war that are not armed warfare. China's water cannon shooting is a gray zone activity since it does not trigger the 1951 U.S.-Philippines Mutual Defense Treaty.

The White House said Biden “emphasized the importance of maintaining peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait” when Taiwan inaugurates its new president next month. China views the self-governed island as its wayward province, and cross-strait problems have been a major source of U.S.-China animosity.

Chinese cybercrime is another issue. The U.S. sanctioned China-linked hackers last month for attacking key infrastructure. Wuhan Xiaoruizhi Science and Technology Company, Limited (Wuhan XRZ) is a Ministry of State Security front that has “served as cover for multiple malicious cyber operations,” the administration claimed. The person noted continuous diplomatic interaction, including Janet Yellen's travel to China in the coming days and Antony Blinken's in the coming weeks. The U.S. and China will discuss AI risk management in the coming weeks.

On other regional and global issues, Biden raised concerns about Beijing's "support for Russia's defense industrial base and its impact on European and transatlantic security," Korean Peninsula denuclearization, and Hong Kong and Xinjiang human rights protection.


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