Biden and Xi Jinping meet in California

November 15, 2023

President Biden was meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping in Woodside, California, near San Francisco, on Wednesday, where the two leaders would seek to cool tense U.S.-China relations.

During a bilateral meeting Wednesday, Xi said, “The China-U.S. relationship, which is the most important bilateral relationship in the word, should be perceived and envisioned in a broad context of the accelerating global transformations unseen in a century.”

He noted that the U.S.-Chinese relationship has “never been smooth sailing” over the past 50 years, and yet “it has kept moving forward amid twists and turns.” And it’s “not an option” for the two nations to turn their backs on each other.

Noting that they’ve known each other for a long time, Biden said, “We haven’t always agreed – which would not surprise anyone – but our meetings have always been candid, straightforward and useful.”

He added, “I value our conversation because I think it’s paramount that you and I understand each other clearly, leader to leader with no misconceptions or miscommunication.”

According to the White House, the Biden-Xi meeting was expected to cover global issues such as the Israel-Hamas war, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, North Korea’s ties with Russia, Taiwan, the Indo-Pacific, human rights, fentanyl, artificial intelligence, as well as “fair” trade and economic relations.

Already heightened U.S.-Chinese tensions amid the Covid-19 pandemic, which originated in China, were only made worse after the Pentagon in February shot down what it says was a Chinese surveillance balloon over South Carolinian waters after it had crossed the continental U.S.

Tensions have been further aggravated by China’s harassment of U.S. vessels and aircraft in and over the Taiwan Strait and the South China Sea.

Beijing has also been saber-rattling against its self-governing neighbor, Taiwan, for months. The U.S. has suspected for some time that China is planning to invade Taiwan, though Beijing has been watching and waiting to see how Russia fairs in its invasion of Ukraine before going forth with an assault against the island nation, just one hundred miles off China’s coast.

In August, Biden signed an executive order aimed at regulating and blocking U.S. high-tech investments in China, asserting the order was designed to protect national security. Last year, the U.S. blocked exports of advanced computer chips to China—much to the ire of Beijing.

But in recent days, Chinese state media has reportedly taken a less negative tone in its coverage of the United States, including calling for warmer relations and positives stories of Americans with ties to China—a marked change from recent years of heavy criticism and negative coverage of the U.S.

For example, the Xinhua news agency recently ran a five-part series on U.S.-China relations that called for the two nations to “work together to return to the path of healthy and stable development.”

The Biden-Xi meeting was coming on the heels of two days of meetings in San Francisco between Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen and her Chinese counterpart, Vice Premier He Lifeng, where the two finance ministers were laying the groundwork for Wednesday’s meeting.

And the Yellen-He discussions came roughly two weeks after China’s top diplomat, senior Foreign Policy Adviser Wang Yi visited Washington to meet with top U.S. officials, including President Biden as well as Wang’s counterpart, Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

Xi similarly met with Blinken in June when the top U.S. diplomat traveled to Beijing for talks with Wang.

During their visits to San Francisco, Biden and Xi were also set to attend the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Leaders’ Week conference.

“I’ll be hosting world leaders to discuss the next chapter of sustainable, inclusive regional growth,” Biden wrote on social media about the APEC summit.

PHOTO: Biden greets Xi Jinping in Woodside CA

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