Biden's Cave to Xi on Huawei's Meng Is a Calamitous Sellout | Opinion

President Joe Biden just engaged in a massive sellout to our greatest adversary, Communist China.

While the American media has been largely muted on the story, in Beijing, it is being trumpeted as a major propaganda coup and, more importantly, a sign of Biden administration weakness inviting still more aggression.

The sellout concerns Huawei—not only the quintessential representative of China's grand strategy to become the predominant global hegemon, but arguably its linchpin as the would-be peerless provider of the 5G telecommunications infrastructure over which much of the world's information is poised to travel.

Last week, the Department of Justice announced it had reached a deferred prosecution agreement with the chief financial officer of Huawei and daughter of its founder, Meng Wanzhou, ending the case against her.

In exchange for admitting to a series of lies she had previously denied regarding Huawei's alleged sanctions-busting work in Iran, for which she faced charges of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and bank fraud, Meng was let off scot-free.

Huawei and several of its subsidiaries remain under indictment in a much broader case involving racketeering, intellectual property theft and alleged sanctions-busting work with North Korea, as well.

Meng had been embroiled in a high-stakes extradition fight with the U.S. government after having been detained by Canadian authorities in Vancouver in December 2018, in connection with the case the DOJ had been pursuing.

Days later, two Canadian citizens, Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig, the latter a former diplomat, were detained in China on apparently trumped-up espionage charges.

Spavor was sentenced this August to 11 years in jail. Kovrig's "case" was still pending when he and Spavor were released, shortly after the DOJ came to its agreement with Meng. China's foreign ministry, in a seeming bid to save face, claimed the "two Michaels" were being released on bail for health reasons, after they had confessed to their guilt.

The message of China's "hostage diplomacy" was clear: "You take one of ours on the basis of the rule of law, and we'll take two of yours on the basis of rule by 'law.'"

The message of America's relenting in the Meng case was also clear: "When Xi says 'jump,' Biden asks 'how high?'"

How do we know this?

The Biden administration was at pains to distance itself from its DOJ, with White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki noting: "We have an independent Justice Department that made independent decisions, law enforcement decisions. At the same time, we have made no secret about our push to have the 'two Michaels' released."

But this claim of "independence" does not pass muster.

This past July, during U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman's visit to Tianjin, China for diplomatic talks, according to official party mouthpiece Xinhua, Beijing "put forward two lists to the United States...one of which is the List of U.S. Wrongdoings that Must Stop and the other is the List of Key Individual Cases that China Has Concerns with."

While the lists were not published in full, Xinhua disclosed that one of the items among them was that the U.S. "revoke the extradition request for Meng Wanzhou." In fact, a Chinese diplomatic official would later reveal that "both lists clearly request [that the] U.S. to drop the...charges against Meng and ensure her safe return to China as soon as possible."

U.S. President Joe Biden gestures as he
U.S. President Joe Biden gestures as he delivers remarks ahead of receiving a third dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine in the South Court Auditorium in the White House September 27, 2021 in Washington, D.C. Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

Now, we have learned that in only the second direct phone call between General Secretary Xi Jinping and President Joe Biden—conducted on September 9, a mere two weeks prior to the dropping of Meng's case—according to China's foreign ministry, Xi raised the case directly and urged President Biden to resolve it. The White House contemporaneously acknowledged Xi raised Meng's case during the call, and said the Biden administration too had broached the case of the "two Michaels," something not reflected in the official readout.

Meng's case, clearly, was of great importance to the man who matters most in China: Xi Jinping. As Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Hua Chunying noted in a recent press conference: "Since Meng was...detained in early December 2018, our Party and the Chinese government have attached high importance and President Xi Jinping gave personal attention to this."

Biden evidently caved to this important request, from Xi's perspective, following a phone call pursued by Biden, not Xi, to thaw U.S.-China relations—that is, from a position of diplomatic weakness.

Biden thus evidently caved in the aftermath of his United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) address in which China was never even mentioned by name—in contrast with President Donald Trump's 2020 UNGA speech almost exclusively targeting China's malign behavior.

Last but not least, the cave came amid remarks by Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo emphasizing the imperative for America to once again embrace economic engagement with China—the disastrous policy pursued by our political establishment for decades before Trump, and which enabled China's rise to our most formidable adversary.

This would seem to be a propitious time for China, as the Biden administration signals a desire to kick-start relations—apparently on China's terms. As Hua said recently:

The proper resolution of the Meng Wanzhou incident is of positive significance. I noticed that some media commented that the resolution removed a thorn deeply inserted in China-U.S. relations. But due to the wrong China policy the U.S. has adopted for some time, other thorns that vary in length still remain in China-U.S. relations. We hope the U.S. can attach high importance and take concrete actions to empty the two lists. [Emphasis mine.]

The Meng case, and its context, should sober those bullish over the recent top-level meeting of the Quad, as well as the trilateral national security pact between the U.S., the U.K. and Australia. That the members of these arrangements have repeatedly stressed they are not aimed at any one country (read: China) itself ought to give us pause.

The career records of President Biden and the bulk of his senior appointees do not inspire confidence America will comprehensively counter China.

The unwillingness of the administration to punish the Chinese Communist Party for its culpability in turning the COVID-19 pandemic that emanated on its shores into a global pandemic and the administration's desperation to engage with China on climate and public health—the two areas in which it is arguably the world's single worst offender—are both major red flags.

That Trump brought Meng's case from a position of strength, while Biden brought it to an end from a position of weakness, speaks volumes. Biden's appeasement will now also invite further aggression. It is just one more disaster on an issue of vital significance, portending far worse.

Ben Weingarten is a senior fellow at the London Center for Policy Research, fellow at the Claremont Institute and senior contributor to The Federalist. He is the author of American Ingrate: Ilhan Omar and the Progressive-Islamist Takeover of the Democratic Party (Bombardier, 2020). Ben is the founder and CEO of ChangeUp Media LLC, a media consulting and production company. Subscribe to his newsletter at bit.ly/bhwnews, and follow him on Twitter: @bhweingarten.

The views expressed in this article are the writer's own.