US President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping are poised for a significant meeting on November 15 in the San Francisco Bay area. The meeting marks their second face-to-face encounter during the Biden presidency. This high-stakes meeting is scheduled amid strained relations, with issues such as the Israel-Hamas war, Taiwan, the conflict in Ukraine, and concerns about election interference topping the agenda.
The meeting, occurring during the Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation (APEC) summit hosted by the US from November 11 to 17, is crucial for addressing various challenges in US-China relations. Despite heightened tensions, both leaders aim to manage competition, prevent conflict, and ensure open channels of communication, acknowledging the changed landscape of the relationship.
The complex dynamics surrounding Taiwan are expected to be a focal point of discussion. China emphasizes its sovereignty over Taiwan, and with upcoming elections on the horizon, tensions are palpable. President Xi Jinping may seek assurances that the US doesn’t support Taiwanese independence, while President Biden is likely to express concerns about Beijing’s military activities around Taiwan.
Moreover, discussions will encompass US restrictions on technology exports to China and territorial disputes in the South China and East China Seas. Amid these disagreements, President Biden’s immediate concern involves urging China to use its influence to restrain Iran from escalating violence in response to the Israel-Hamas war, highlighting the interconnectedness of global issues.
Analysts anticipate that the summit may yield modest achievements, such as restoring military communications and addressing concerns about the flow of Chinese-made Fentanyl. However, both sides are realistic about not expecting groundbreaking developments that would reset the overall relationship. The root causes of strained relations were underscored by President Xi in March, accusing the US of encircling, containing, and suppressing China.
China seeks assurances from the US, emphasizing a commitment to respecting China’s system, avoiding a new Cold War, not supporting Taiwan’s independence, and refraining from seeking decoupling from China. The Biden administration aims to counter perceived aggressive Chinese behavior while working towards de-escalation after incidents like the spy balloon crisis.
Despite the challenges, Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s hands-on diplomacy has paved the way for the summit. Persistent efforts to re-establish military dialogue have faced obstacles, notably the spy balloon incident in February, emphasizing the difficulty in establishing high-level communications with Beijing.
As part of the summit, President Xi Jinping is expected to attend a private dinner with US business executives in San Francisco. Attendees can join the Chinese president’s table for $40,000, reflecting the significance of economic cooperation. This illustrates the multifaceted nature of US-China relations, where economic and diplomatic components intertwine.
Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen’s talks with Chinese Vice-Premier He Lifeng this week on economic cooperation further highlight the comprehensive approach the US is taking. The responsibility to overcome disruptions in US-China relations is underscored by Chinese state media, emphasizing the importance of addressing challenges and building a more stable relationship.
The upcoming Biden-Xi summit holds strategic importance, addressing a spectrum of issues crucial for the stability of US-China relations. While breakthroughs might be limited, the summit signifies a diplomatic effort to manage and stabilize the complex dynamics between the two global powers.