Biden uses Xi anecdote to set out his China doctrine

Photo credit: Gage Skidmore

Biden’s first press conference has attracted attention for being late, for his use of memory prompts and for continued questions over border controls. But a section on his approach to managing relations with China (see here) shows his skilful use of anecdote.

He tells of the many hours he has spent with President Xi both in his time as vice president and a recent two-hour call as President. He says that Xi ‘doesn’t have a democratic bone in his body but is a very, very smart guy’. And he makes it clear the two men understand each other.

The anecdote is the glue that holds the narrative together, and Biden frames many of his points through relating what he has said to Xi. 

The rest of the content is classically structured. Biden says he wants America to compete with China economically rather than be confrontational. Second, that the competition is fair, and third that he will take steps to make America more competitive especially in technology. He also gives red meat to the patriotic core saying that China’s goal to create the world’s biggest economy won’t happen under his watch.

It’s unspectacular after the fireworks of the Trump era but, as NBC comments, Biden stays focused on substance.