San Francisco [US]: US President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping met Wednesday outside of San Francisco in their first face-to-face encounter in a year.
The summit, held on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), followed efforts between the US and China to increase high-level communication amid continued tensions.
‘I think it’s paramount that you and I understand each other clearly leader to leader, with no misconceptions or miscommunication,’ Biden said at the start of the summit.
Xi arrived in the US on Tuesday (local time) and the meeting, occurring at an undisclosed estate, marked the first encounter between the two leaders in a year and Xi’s first visit to the US in six years.
‘For two large countries like China and the United States, turning their back on each other is not an option,’ Xi said in his opening remarks. ‘Planet Earth is big enough for the two countries to succeed.’
This high-stakes meeting serves as a critical test for Biden and Xi, aiming to address the escalating tensions between the two nations amid global turbulence.
Despite months of friction, the fact that the meeting took place was considered a positive sign by White House aides.
The White House said the meeting between President Biden and President Xi Jinping will address hard issues such as fentanyl supplies coming in from Asia and a lack of military communication.
With this summit, President Biden aims to restore communications with China’s Jinping.
Biden, in his opening remarks, said competition between the US and China could not tilt towards conflict and added that his past meetings with Xi had been ‘candid, straightforward and useful.’
‘As always, there is no substitute for face-to-face discussions. I’ve always found our discussions straightforward and frank,’ Biden said.
Biden added that the leaders had a responsibility to their populations to work together, including on issues of climate change, countering narcotics trafficking and approaching artificial intelligence.
While Xi said in his remarks to Biden and the US delegation, ‘The world has emerged from the COVID pandemic but is still under its tremendous impacts. The global economy is recovering, but its momentum remains sluggish.’
The Chinese president also added that his country’s relationship with the U.S. has ‘never been smooth sailing’ over the last 50 years ‘yet it has kept moving forward’ with twists and turns.
According to a senior White House official, the leaders also engaged in discussions concerning the strategic direction of the bilateral relationship and the paramount importance of maintaining open lines of communication, including military-to-military dialogue.
Their agenda encompassed a wide spectrum of regional and global matters, including Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the Israel-Hamas conflict and Indo-Pacific.
Furthermore, they are expected to explore opportunities for collaboration where the interests of the United States and China converge, particularly on transnational challenges of global significance, such as climate change and counter-narcotics efforts.
The two leaders also addressed other issues like human rights, trade-related issues, the South China Sea dispute, and the pursuit of a fair and equitable environment for US businesses and workers. The White House official emphasised that virtually every aspect of the bilateral relationship will be open for discussion, encompassing topics such as fentanyl, artificial intelligence, and the situation of US detainees in China.
A senior White House official also articulated the primary objective of the United States as establishing a framework for effectively navigating a challenging, intricate, and multifaceted relationship.
In their own words, ‘This is not the same relationship as it was five or ten years ago. We are not setting our sights on an extensive list of specific outcomes or deliverables. Instead, our objectives are centered on the prudent management of competition, the mitigation of potential conflicts, and the preservation of open lines of communication.
We approach these meetings with a grounded sense of realism regarding our expectations, recognising the imperative of responsible management of this competition, a stance that aligns with the expectations of our partners and allies.’