He said, Xi said

On Thursday President Biden spoke with China President Xi Jinping by phone. “Biden” tweeted out the photo of himself speaking with Xi from the Oval Office (below). It’s not a good look. It’s a bad look.

Who said what to whom? “Biden” barely hints at the substance of the conversation.

The White House has posted its readout of the call. The White House has also posted the somewhat more informative transcript of a press backgrounder on the call.

This is the White House readout of the call:

President Joseph R. Biden Jr. spoke today with President Xi Jinping of the People’s Republic of China (PRC). The call was a part of the Biden Administration’s efforts to maintain and deepen lines of communication between the United States and the PRC and responsibly manage our differences and work together where our interests align. The call follows the two leaders’ conversation on March 18th and a series of conversations between high-level U.S. and PRC officials. The two presidents discussed a range of issues important to the bilateral relationship and other regional and global issues, and tasked their teams to continue following up on today’s conversation, in particular to address climate change and health security. On Taiwan, President Biden underscored that the United States policy has not changed and that the United States strongly opposes unilateral efforts to change the status quo or undermine peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait.

Xi is no dummy. He has sized up Biden to our disadvantage. I assess with a high degree of certainty that Xi finds Biden’s climate shtick laughable.

Xi has of course compromised Biden through Chinese investments in the Biden family business. He therefore feels free to let it be known that he threatened Biden during the call. According to Chinese state media, Xi told Biden: “Those who play with fire will only get burnt. Hope the U.S. side can see this clearly.” New York Post covered the more forthcoming Chinese readout of the call here. The Daily Mail covered it here. The transcript of the White House backgrounder makes it clear that the Chinese state media had this right.

The Post circles back to incorporate its own coverage of the Biden family business via the laptop from hell:

Thursday’s call took place amid uncertainty over whether first son Hunter Biden still holds a 10% stake in a Chinese investment firm that’s controlled in part by state-owned entities. The company, BHR Partners, was formed 12 days after Hunter Biden joined his father, then-vice president Joe Biden, aboard Air Force Two for a 2013 trip to Beijing.

Online business records suggest the first son still holds the 10% stake in BHR and the White House has provided no transparency about his alleged divestment. [White House press secretary Karine] Jean-Pierre referred a question about Hunter Biden’s ownership status to the first son’s legal team, which claimed in November he no longer held the stake.

The Biden-Xi call also happened less than a day after The Post reported that a Hunter Biden associate, James Gilliar, referred to Joe Biden at least twice as the “big guy” — a term that relates to a different Biden family business venture in China, with energy company CEFC.

CEFC paid Hunter Biden and first brother Jim Biden $4.8 million in 2017 and 2018, the Washington Post reported this year. Joe Biden allegedly was due to receive a 10% equity stake in a corporate entity established with CEFC.

Former Hunter Biden business partner Tony Bobulinski says that he spoke with Joe Biden in May 2017 about the CEFC joint venture and a May 13, 2017, email written by Gilliar said that the “big guy” would get 10%. Bobulinski previously alleged that the president was the “big guy,” a claim confirmed by Gilliar’s latest message.

I further assess with a high degree of certainty that Xi believes he has the upper hand with Biden and his clown car administration.

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