Biden & Xi Jinping craft agreements on military, fentanyl

November 16, 2023

During a meeting outside San Francisco on Wednesday, President Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping agreed to resume military-to-military communications and work to curb fentanyl production. 

In the two world leaders’ first face-to-face discussions in a year, Biden and Xi also agreed to open a presidential hotline, with Biden telling reporters that if either he or China’s President had a concern, “we should pick up the phone and call one another and we’ll take the call. That’s important progress.”

Military contacts that China severed after then-House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited Taiwan in August 2022 will be resumed, as well.

China had reacted to Pelosi’s visit by undertaking military exercises that blockaded Taiwan’s major ports—a move that Taiwan’s Foreign Minister said was part of China’s “game plan” for invasion. 

China had already been been saber-rattling against its self-governing neighbor at the time. The U.S. has long suspected 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.

The meeting Wednesday between Biden and Xi aimed to cool heightened U.S.-Chinese tensions that were aggravated amid the Covid-19 pandemic, which originated in China, and 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.

But in the days ahead of Xi’s travel to California, Chinese state media reportedly took a less negative tone in its coverage of the United States, including calling for warmer relations and positive stories of Americans with ties to China—a marked change from recent years of heavy criticism and negative coverage of the U.S.

Easing tensions, however, remains a work in progress—as illustrated by Biden’s maintaining his view that Xi is a dictator “in a sense.”

On Wednesday the two leaders also agreed to a plan to curb illegal exports of fentanyl  into the U.S. along with chemicals that can be combined to make the synthetic opioid that is up to 50 times stronger than heroin and 100 times stronger than morphine.

“We built on groundwork laid over the past several months of diplomacy between our countries and made important progress,” President Biden wrote on social media.

PHOTO: Biden-Xi bilateral meeting in Woodside CA

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