Whenever President Joe Biden ventures abroad, drama seems to follow him, and the G20 summit in Bali is no exception — though this time, surprisingly, Biden isn’t the one to blame.
White House aides in Indonesia were forced to intervene on behalf of ABC White House producer Molly Nagle, who was grabbed by her backpack and “yanked” backward by a man who appeared to be a Chinese aide ahead of President Biden’s anticipated meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping.
While no video of the incident has surfaced, Agence France-Presse pool reporter Sebastian Smith described the unnerving scene.
Following opening remarks from Biden and Xi, Nagle shouted a question about human rights issues to Biden, who would hold a three-hour discussion with the Chinese leader.
“Instantly, a man from the Chinese side — he was wearing a white Covid mask with a Chinese flag on it — yanked the producer backwards by the backpack,” Smith wrote, according to the Washington Examiner.
“She lost balance without falling and was pushed toward the door,” Smith continued. “Two White House staff members intervened saying the producer should be left alone.”
The kerfuffle added an edge to what CNN International Correspondent Selina Wang described as a “tense atmosphere.”
Biden is all smiles, showing his teeth. Xi's smile is more reserved. A moment during the initial greeting when Xi drops his hands, then Biden puts his hand on Xi's back. Xi's expression remains unchanged
It's their first in-person meeting since 2017 pic.twitter.com/2KCeQVByoU
— Selina Wang (@selinawangtv) November 14, 2022
In their first in-person meeting since 2017, Biden and Xi “spoke candidly about their respective priorities and intentions across a range of issues,” according to the White House readout of the event.
“President Biden explained that the United States will continue to compete vigorously with the PRC [People’s Republic of China], including by investing in sources of strength at home and aligning efforts with allies and partners around the world,” the White House stated. “He reiterated that this competition should not veer into conflict and underscored that the United States and China must manage the competition responsibly and maintain open lines of communication.”
“The two leaders discussed the importance of developing principles that would advance these goals and tasked their teams to discuss them further,” the readout continued.
Nagle would be relieved to know that human rights issues were indeed on the table.
“President Biden raised concerns about PRC practices in Xinjiang, Tibet, and Hong Kong, and human rights more broadly,” the White House said.
After assuring Xi that the United States “one China” policy regarding Taiwan remains unchanged, and “the United States opposes any unilateral changes to the status quo by either side,” Biden “raised U.S. objections to the PRC’s coercive and increasingly aggressive actions toward Taiwan, which undermine peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait and in the broader region, and jeopardize global prosperity.”
And, of course, climate change was discussed, because, according to the White House, “the international community expects” the two nations to work together on “transnational challenges”:
President Biden underscored that the United States and China must work together to address transnational challenges – such as climate change, global macroeconomic stability including debt relief, health security, and global food security – because that is what the international community expects. The two leaders agreed to empower key senior officials to maintain communication and deepen constructive efforts on these and other issues. They welcomed ongoing efforts to address specific issues in U.S.-China bilateral relations, and encouraged further progress in these existing mechanisms, including through joint working groups. They also noted the importance of ties between the people of the United States and the PRC.
To that end, said the White House, “The two leaders agreed that Secretary of State Blinken will visit China to follow up on their discussions.”
After the meeting, Biden took to Twitter and touted the meeting.
“Today, I met with President Xi Jinping of the People’s Republic of China,” the president tweeted. “We discussed our responsibility to prevent the competition between our countries from veering into conflict and finding ways to work together on shared challenges that affect the international community.”
No word on whether Hunter Biden will be on hand to offer his expert assistance…
Today, I met with President Xi Jinping of the People’s Republic of China.
We discussed our responsibility to prevent the competition between our countries from veering into conflict and finding ways to work together on shared challenges that affect the international community. pic.twitter.com/ufneHdcyCF
— President Biden (@POTUS) November 14, 2022
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