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A Trump campaign ad tells Americans that during the coronavirus outbreak, Joe Biden sided with China and did not look out for Americans.
The ad tells a misleading story by splicing video and audio and cutting out significant context. The ad includes video and audio that are unrelated to the coronavirus pandemic.
It omits that Trump repeatedly praised China’s handling of the coronavirus outbreak and ignores that Biden has said China shouldn’t be trusted blindly.
A campaign ad for President Donald Trump tells Americans that Joe Biden sided with China at their expense during the coronavirus pandemic, portraying the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee as both aloof and self-interested during a crisis.
The ad weaves a misleading narrative by splicing video and audio and cutting out significant context. Missing from the highlight reel is Trump’s repeated praise for China’s COVID-19 response and Biden saying China shouldn’t be trusted blindly.
"I have spoken to President Xi (Jinping), and they’re working very hard. And if you know anything about him, I think he’ll be in pretty good shape," Trump said Feb. 25.
Biden a day later said China should be scrutinized.
"What I would do were I president now, I would not be taking China's word for it," said Biden during a Feb. 26 CNN town hall. "I’d insist that China allow our scientists in to make a hard determination of how it started, where it's from, how far along it is. Because that is not happening now."
Trump’s campaign did not respond to our request for comment.
Here’s PolitiFact’s guide to the misleading and false elements of the one-minute ad titled, "Biden stands up for China."
The ad claims Biden "protected China’s feelings" during the coronavirus outbreak. Video clips show Biden and Xi smiling and clinking glasses.
But some video and audio dates back as far as 2011 and is unrelated to the pandemic. The video montage features Biden saying:
• "China is going to eat our lunch? C’mon man, they are not bad folks, folks."
• "What a beautiful history we wrote together."
• "It is in our self interest that China continue to prosper."
Key elements of what Biden said are missing from all three quotes.
Biden made the "lunch" remark while putting down China, not praising it. That happened in May during a campaign stop in Iowa, months before the new virus was detected in China late 2019. Biden argued that China was no competition for the United States. (The portion from the Trump ad appears in bold.)
"China is going to eat our lunch? Come on, man," Biden said. "They can’t even figure out how to deal with the fact that they have this great division between the China Sea and the mountains in the east, I mean in the west. They can’t figure out how they’re going to deal with the corruption that exists within the system. I mean, you know, they’re not bad folks, folks. But guess what? They’re not competition for us."
The other two comments are from 2015 and 2011.
Biden and then-Secretary of State John Kerry on Sept. 25, 2015, hosted Xi and a Chinese delegation in Washington. Biden said he was hopeful that future generations would reflect on a beautiful history created by the United States and China going forward.
"As I told you, Mr. President, back in 2012, the history of the next 50 years is going to be largely based on how well our two countries, the United States and China, navigate this relationship," Biden said. "So I’d like to make a toast, Mr. President. I’d like to make a toast, and — to the hope and expectation that 50 years from now our great grandchildren will look back and say what a beautiful history we wrote together."
During a speech at China’s Sichuan University Aug. 21, 2011, Biden said the United States wanted China to succeed because that would be good for the U.S. economy.
"A more prosperous China will mean more demand for American-made goods and services and more jobs back home in the United States of America. So our desire for your prosperity is not borne out of some nobility," Biden said. "It is in our self-interest that China continue to prosper. Every day it becomes clear that as the world's two largest economies with ever growing ties of investment and commerce, what you do matters to us and matters to the American people."
The ad then turns from its initial claim that "Biden protected China’s feelings" to pose a question: "Or perhaps China’s investment?" A voice says, "Biden’s son inked a billion dollar deal with a subsidiary of the Bank of China." The Oct. 10, 2019 headline, "Joe Biden met with Hunter’s Chinese partners," flashes on the screen, with a picture of Biden and his son, Hunter.
It’s difficult to independently verify details of Hunter Biden’s business dealings in China. Conservative author Peter Schweitzer wrote that Hunter Biden’s firm scored a $1.5 billion deal with a subsidiary of the Chinese government’s Bank of China in 2013 shortly after Hunter and his dad flew on Air force Two to China.
The Wall Street Journal reported July 2014 that the firm was "aiming to raise about $1.5 billion." George Mesires, a lawyer for Hunter Biden, has said that the $1.5 billion was never reached; it was aspirational. Read more about those details here.
The Trump administration announced a travel restriction on China Jan. 31. The ad features a short clip of Biden at a Jan. 31 campaign event in Iowa, saying: "This is no time for Donald Trump’s record of hysterical xenophobia."
But Biden in his speech did not explicitly say the travel restriction was xenophobic.
"You know we have right now a crisis with the coronavirus emanating from China, a national emergency, you know, worldwide alerts. The American people need to have a president who they can trust what he says about it, that he is going to act rationally about it, and moments like this, this is where the credibility of a president is most needed, as he explains what we should and should not do," Biden said. "This is no time for Donald Trump's record of hysteria xenophobia, hysterical xenophobia, and fear-mongering to lead the way instead of science. Trump has rolled back the progress President Obama and I made in strengthening global health security dealing with the Ebola virus."
The ad shows Biden saying "banning all travel will not stop it," followed by news commentary and a headline on RealClearPolitics.com lauding Trump’s travel restriction.
But the ad spliced Biden’s March 12 speech to give a false impression. Notably, Biden wasn’t specifically talking about the travel restriction on China; he was referring to a travel restriction on "Europe or any other part of the world."
"The coronavirus does not have a political affiliation. It will infect Republicans, independents and Democrats alike and will not discriminate based on national origin, race, gender or zip code. It will touch people in positions of power as well as the most vulnerable in our society," Biden said. "And it will not stop, banning all travel from Europe or any other part of the world may slow it, but as we’ve seen it will not stop it. And travel restrictions based on favoritism and politics rather than a risk will be counterproductive."
The ad claims that Biden forgot he had criticized Trump, and ultimately complimented him. It shows a montage of Biden saying, "hysterical xenophobia," "fearmongering" and "xenophobia," followed by a black screen with the words, "until he forgot he did." Biden says, "I complimented him on dealing with China."
That selectively cuts out key words and context. Biden in an April 5 interview claimed that Trump was actually slow to impose a travel restriction on China.
"He indicated that I complimented him on dealing with China," Biden told ABC. "Well, you know, 45 nations had already moved to keep, block China's personnel from being able to come to the United States before the president moved. It's about pace. It's about the urgency. And I don't think there's been enough of it, urgency."
The ad includes a brief snippet of Biden walking on stage toward Gary Locke, who is at a podium. Behind Locke is an American flag flanked by a Chinese flag on either side.
Biden in late 2013 went on a six-day trip to Japan, China and the Republic of Korea to meet with key leaders to discuss bilateral, regional and global issues. The clip in the ad comes from a Dec. 5, 2013, breakfast event with American and Chinese business leaders.
Locke issued a statement about the Trump campaign ad, saying Trump and his team "are fanning hatred and it needs to stop now." Hate crimes and discrimination against Asian Americans are increasing, Locke said, and "the Trump team is making it worse."
"Asian Americans are Americans. Period."
YouTube, Donald J. Trump account — "Biden stands up for China" campaign ad, April 9, 2020
Email interview, Joe Biden campaign, April 14-15, 2020
WhiteHouse.gov, Remarks by President Trump at a Business Roundtable | New Delhi, India, Feb. 26, 2020; Remarks by President Trump Before Air Force One Departure | Joint Base Andrews, MD, Feb. 18, 2020; Remarks by President Trump Before Marine One Departure, Feb. 7, 2020
Twitter, @realDonaldTrump tweet, Jan. 24, 2020
Twitter, @GovGaryLocke tweet, April 10, 2020
Rev.com, Joe Biden speaks about the coronavirus pandemic, March 12, 2020
Getty Images, U.S Vice President Joe Biden Visits China
U.S. State Department website archive, Secretary Kerry Co-hosts a Lunch for Chinese President Xi Jinping Along With Vice President Joe Biden, Sept. 25, 2015
Obama White House website archive, The Vice President’s 2013 Asia Trip
Obama White House website archive, President Obama Names Commerce Secretary Gary Locke as Next Ambassador to China, March 9, 2011
YouTube, Tony Dortie - 24/7 Eyes account — Joe Biden talks Trump community event in Fort Madison, Iowa, Jan. 31, 2020
YouTube, The Obama White House account — Vice President Biden Delivers Remarks on U.S.-China Business Relations, Dec. 5, 2013; The Obama White House account — Vice President Joe Biden Speaks on U.S. - China Relations, Aug. 21, 2011
State of Washington website archive, Gary Locke bio
The Wall Street Journal, Bohai, Harvest and U.S. Investment Firms Expand Target for Outbound Fund, July 10, 2014
NBCNews.com, Biden's comments downplaying China threat to U.S. fire up pols on both sides, May 2, 2020
CNN Transcripts, Town Hall with Democratic Presidential Candidate, Former Vice President Joe Biden, Feb. 26, 2020
ABCNews.go.com, 'This Week' Transcript 4-5-20: Joe Biden, Secretary Mark Esper, April 5, 2020
PolitiFact, Joe Biden’s claim about Donald Trump’s ‘slow’ travel restriction needs context, April 13, 2020; Donald Trump's accusations about Hunter Biden and a payout from China: A closer look, Oct. 2, 2019