Joe Biden, Xi Jinping seek to reduce friction in historic meeting

Xi called US-China relations “the most important bilateral relationship in the world”

US President Joe Biden welcomes Chinese President Xi Jinping ahead of a meeting during Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Leaders Week.  -AFP
US President Joe Biden welcomes Chinese President Xi Jinping ahead of a meeting during Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) leaders’ week. -AFP

Woodside: US President Joe Biden met Chinese leader Xi Jinping on Wednesday for the first time in a year, seeking to ease friction between the two superpowers over military conflict, drug trafficking and artificial intelligence.

Biden welcomed the Chinese leader to the Filoli Estate, a rural home and gardens about 30 miles (48 km) south of San Francisco, where he will later go for a summit of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum.

In opening remarks, Biden said the US and China must ensure that competition between them “does not turn into conflict” and manage their relationship “responsibly.”

Xi told Biden that a lot had happened since their last meeting in Bali a year ago. “The world has emerged from the COVID pandemic, but is still deeply affected by it. The global economy is recovering, but its pace remains sluggish.”

Xi called the U.S.-China relationship “the most important bilateral relationship in the world”, and said he and Biden “bear enormous responsibilities for the two peoples, for the world, and for history.”

“For two big countries like China and the United States, turning our backs on each other is not an option,” he said. “It is unrealistic for one side to redesign the other, and conflict and confrontation have unbearable consequences for both sides.”

Leaders will try to reduce friction between the countries, but deep progress on the vast differences separating them may have to wait for another day.

Officials on both sides of the Pacific have lowered expectations as Biden and Xi are set to discuss Taiwan, the South China Sea, the Israel-Hamas war, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, North Korea and human rights — areas where the leaders Have been unable to resolve long standing disagreements.

Biden and Xi arrived in San Francisco on Tuesday where they will both attend the (APEC) summit.

Leaders of the 21-nation grouping — and hundreds of CEOs in San Francisco to introduce them — meet amid relative Chinese economic weakness, Beijing’s territorial disputes with neighbors and a Middle East conflict that is dividing the United States from allies. .

Experts say Xi will be looking for a smooth summit with Biden to show those worried about the domestic economy and declining foreign investment that he can successfully handle relations between the world’s two largest economies.

Despite efforts to get homeless people off the streets, efforts to carefully organize Xi’s visit to San Francisco could face a setback. The route from the airport to the conference site was packed with protesters both for and against China’s ruling Communist Party, an unusual scene for Xi, who last visited the United States in 2017.

The location of the bilateral summit, away from the APEC summit venue, offers the leaders a combination of security, peace and remoteness.

Biden has sought direct diplomacy with Xi, betting that the personal relationship he has built over a dozen years with the most powerful Chinese leader since Mao Zedong can save a relationship that has grown increasingly hostile. Are going.

Chong Jae Ian, professor of political science at the National University of Singapore, said both sides engaged in what Mao called “talk and fight, fight and talk” during the Chinese Civil War.

“That means talking while building strength,” Chong said.

Iran, election interference, fentanyl

During the meeting, Biden is expected to pressure Xi to refrain from using China’s influence to provoke Iran or encourage its proxies to enter the fray, moves that could embolden Israel across the Middle East. Hamas can escalate the conflict.

He is also expected to raise issues of alleged Chinese campaigns to influence foreign elections, the situation of US citizens who Washington believes have been wrongfully detained in China and human rights issues.

U.S. officials took concrete steps to restore staff-level interactions between the two countries on issues ranging from military-to-military communications to reducing the flow of fentanyl, managing the growth of artificial intelligence technologies, and managing trade and climate. Expected to be picked up.

US officials say that many of the chemicals used to make fentanyl come from China.

Ahead of the meeting, both countries endorsed a new renewable energy target and said they would work to reduce methane and plastic pollution in 2022 Renewal of climate cooperation after former US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan suspended Was done.

Biden, 80, presides over an economy that has outperformed expectations and is the richest country after the COVID-19 pandemic. He is seeking a second term in office.

He has rallied the country’s traditional allies from Europe to Asia to confront Russia in Ukraine, although some remain divided over the Israel-Hamas conflict. Xi, a decade younger than Biden, has tightened control over policy, state leaders, the media and the military, and changing the constitution. Recently, economic challenges have diverted the country from its three-decade development path.

Government officials across the region expect Beijing to take advantage of the United States’ perceived shift to focus on Ukraine and Israel in the coming weeks to test Washington as it advances its ambitions in the Indo-Pacific.

Biden is expected to tell Xi that US commitments in the Indo-Pacific remain unchanged. China has alarmed its neighbors in recent years by taking action in the Taiwan Strait, the South China Sea and the East China Sea, areas of international dispute.

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