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Biden, Xi Set to Meet Nov. 15 on Sidelines of APEC Summit

Biden, Xi Set to Meet Nov. 15 on Sidelines of APEC Summit
President Joe Biden and Xi Jinping. (Photo: Bloomberg)

President Joe Biden will sit down with his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, on Nov. 15, the first conversation between the two leaders in a year.

The long-anticipated meeting is intended to stabilize ties between the countries, affording Biden and Xi the opportunity to discuss in-person the issues affecting the relationship as well as broader global concerns. US officials have downplayed expectations for any clear breakthroughs and stressed that the focus is on clearing up misperceptions in the bilateral relationship.

Biden is expected to raise the need for open lines of communication, including in the military realm, and discuss issues involving artificial intelligence, fentanyl and detained Americans in China, according to senior administration officials who briefed reporters Thursday on condition of anonymity.

White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said in a statement Friday that the two leaders would discuss how the US and China can “responsibly manage competition and work together where our interests align, particularly on transnational challenges that affect the international community.”

“The two presidents will have in-depth communication on issues of strategic, overarching and fundamental importance in shaping China-U.S. relations and major issues concerning world peace and development,” China’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement Friday.

The countries are expected to announce a resumption of military-to-military communications after Beijing cut off that channel following then-Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s trip to Taiwan in August 2022, according to people familiar with the plans. The US also hopes to reach an agreement to get China’s help in cracking down on the chemical ingredients used to make fentanyl, said the people, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the US objectives.

The get-together of the leaders of the world’s two largest economies comes on the sidelines of next week’s Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum in San Francisco. The US is hosting the gathering for the first time since 2011.

The senior administration officials did not share where the Biden-Xi meeting would take place, saying only that it would be in the San Francisco Bay area. China’s foreign ministry confirmed Friday that Xi will travel to San Francisco Nov. 14-17 to meet with Biden and attend APEC meetings.

Read More: Biden, Xi Draw Business to APEC With Trade, Investment on Agenda

Biden and Xi have not spoken since their last encounter at the Group of 20 summit in Bali, Indonesia, on Nov. 14, 2022. That meeting lasted about three-and-a-half hours and appeared to clear the way for a less confrontational relationship.

The post-Bali glow did not last long. Relations deteriorated to a new low early this year after an alleged Chinese spy balloon traversed the continental US and was ultimately shot down by the US military. The balloon episode could come up in the broader context of military communications and the need for clear parameters of engagement, one of the officials said.

In recent months, both leaders have dispatched top officials to each other’s capitals for talks and to prepare for the meeting.

Xi last set foot on US soil in 2017 when he met with then-President Donald Trump at his Mar-a-Lago resort.

Next week’s encounter comes against the backdrop of the conflict between Israel and Hamas and Russia’s war against Ukraine. US officials believe China is helping Moscow replenish its war machine through exports of dual-use technologies, but that Beijing is more hesitant to support Iran and its proxies against Israel. Iran-backed Hamas has been designated a terrorist group by the US and European Union.

The US has asked Beijing to pass messages to Tehran and help avoid the war between Israel and Hamas from escalating in the region. Biden will again underscore that message in his meeting with Xi, the officials said.

Biden and Xi will also discuss Taiwan, which along with technology restrictions and military encounters in the South China Sea, remains one of the main flashpoints in the US-China relationship

Biden will reaffirm his stance that there should be no change to the status quo by force and that the US supports peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait. Taiwan will elect its next president in January, making it more difficult for Biden and US officials to weigh in on the topic now.

Still, officials said he will clearly state longstanding policy that the US does not support Taiwan independence and warn Beijing against interfering in the island’s elections.


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