National Security

In 2.5-Hour Conversation With China’s Xi, Biden Mentions COVID Origins And Fentanyl Zero Times

(Photo by BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP via Getty Images)

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Micaela Burrow Investigative Reporter, Defense
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President Joe Biden spoke with Chinese Communist Party leader Xi Jinping for 2.5 hours Thursday, but neither party indicated discussing the origins of COVID-19 or drug smuggling from China that is wreaking havoc in the U.S.

Biden and Xi discussed “a range of issues,” including Taiwan, and the White House readout identified “climate change and health security” as areas where follow-up activity from U.S. and Chinese officials would be required. However, it did not indicate whether Biden pressed Xi on the unsolved investigation into COVID-19 origins in China or how China is contributing to an opioid crisis in the U.S.

“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,” according to the readout.

White House spokesperson John Kirby stonewalled a reporter’s questions on whether fentanyl and COVID-19 origins would be discussed in a press briefing Wednesday.

A longer readout of the call from the Chinese Foreign Ministry mentions global security challenges and a need for the U.S. and China to moderate their competitive behavior and inflammatory rhetoric. It confirmed Biden’s statement that “U.S.-China cooperation benefits not only the two peoples but also people of all countries.”

Xi discussed economic problems facing the world and efforts to eliminate COVID-19, and he reiterated his opposition to Taiwan’s independence as a matter of Chinese national security, according to the readout. “Those who play with fire will perish by it,” he said.

China has systematically obscured evidence that could help researchers discover the origins of the COVID-19 virus, and ongoing inquiries remain mired in politics and controversy. While some researchers suspect the virus grew out of a lab jointly operated by U.S. and Chinese scientists, others argue it came from a wet market in the Wuhan province. (RELATED: Internal Documents Reveal CDC Worked With Big Tech To Censor COVID-19 Speech)

Fentanyl, an opioid of which relatively small amounts can prove fatal, produced in China and smuggled across the U.S. southern border with Mexico fueled a record number of overdose deaths in 2021, according to the CDC.

Biden has held several calls with his Chinese counterpart since taking office, but none of the readouts, short summaries of Biden’s phone calls, have mentioned illicit drug production. China denies being the world’s largest producer of fentanyl.

Lawmakers say Biden is not doing enough to stem the flow of fentanyl into the U.S.

“China remains the primary source of fentanyl and fentanyl-related substances trafficked through international mail and express consignment operations environment, as well as the main source for all fentanyl-related substances trafficked into the United States,” the Drug Enforcement Agency wrote in a 2020 report.

The White House, the Chinese Embassy to the U.S. and the Chinese Foreign Ministry did not respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s question regarding the contents of Biden and Xi’s call.

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