Biden and Xi attempt to smooth out U.S.-China relations

Plus, Republicans in Ohio are trying to dilute newly won abortion protections, marijuana legalization.


After a rare, one-on-one meeting between President Joe Biden and Chinese leader Xi Jinping outside San Francisco, they announced that the two countries will resume direct military communications after more than a year of deafening silence.

The two leaders also came to an informal agreement on a mutual effort to curb the underground distribution of fentanyl and regulate AI technology. 

Biden, who has met with Xi multiple times as both vice president and president, called the four-hour summit “some of the most constructive and productive discussions we've had.” He did, however, call the longtime general secretary of the Chinese Communist Party a despot.  

"Look… He's a dictator in the sense that he's a guy who runs a country that is a communist country that's based on a form of government totally different than ours," he said at a press event following the talks. The White House also reported that during their discourse, Biden raised concerns about human rights abuses in Tibet, Hong Kong and in the Xinjiang province — home to the majority of China’s Uyghur population. 

"President Biden underscored the universality of human rights and the responsibility of all nations to respect their international human rights commitments," the White House said in a statement. 

Prior to the meeting, Biden’s primary rival, former president and current 2024 GOP frontrunner Donald Trump, belittled him while applauding Xi as a “piece of steel.”

“Strong. Smart. There’s nobody in Hollywood who could play the role,” Trump said in his typical carnival-barker tone at a Mar-a-Lago gala.

In contrast, Trump referred to Biden as “a man who can’t put two sentences together… We have a guy who can’t speak. It’s very dangerous for our country.”

Following the passage of two referendums in Ohio — one enshrining abortion rights into the state constitution, the other legalizing recreational marijuana usage — GOP lawmakers in the state are already working to undermine the progressive victories. 

In the case of newfound abortion protections, state legislators are attempting to allocate tax credits to those who donate to so-called “crisis pregnancy centers.” These faux-reproductive clinics make allusions to being abortion clinics in order to trick vulnerable women looking for reproductive healthcare — often working under misleading monikers like “Birth Choice” or “Woman’s Choice.” 

Once an unsuspecting patient enters one of these anti-abortion counseling centers, right-wing activists will then attempt to convince an individual not to terminate their pregnancy — sometimes after providing actual healthcare like a pregnancy test. 

State Sen. Sandra O’Brien (R-Youngstown–Warren) introduced the bill that could potentially subsidize donations to crisis centers, of which 175 exist in the state.

“Their work and care day in and day out shows their commitment to serving women and families around them, and serving the lives of the unborn,” O’Brien said of Senate Bill 159 during a Senate Finance Committee hearing on Tuesday. “A tax credit is the least we can do.”

Meanwhile, other Republicans in the state Senate are plotting to create potential barriers to purchasing recreational marijuana, though the exact nature of their plan has yet to be announced. 

“Some lawmakers also want to raise the tax rate on marijuana to fund county jails and police training, but others disagree on raising the rate higher than 10%, which is where it currently sits. It is also unclear how Issue 2 fits into the state’s smoking prohibitions,” according to Heartland Signal’s Richard Eberwein. 

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Jamie Larson