Biden and Xi hold high-voltage meeting today in Northern California

President Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping are in the middle of talks on Wednesday on the sidelines of Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation as Mr Biden looks to steer the relationship between the world’s two largest economies.

The two men shook hands ahead of their bilateral meeting at the Filoli Historic House & Garden in Woodside, California, just outside San Francisco. At the top of their bilateral meeting, Mr. Biden that there is no substitute for face-to-face discussions and it is important to ensure that “competition does not turn into conflict.” Through an interpreter, Xi called China-US relations the most important bilateral relationship in the world and said “turning our backs on each other is not an option.”

The men don’t meet one-on-one – each manager has about a dozen top aides in the room. Mr. Biden will hold a solo press conference after the bilateral meeting, although the conversation is expected to take hours.

It is Mr Biden’s second meeting with Xi since taking office, although the two have also spoken virtually, and Mr Biden met with Xi many times before taking office. It’s the first time they’ve spoken since theirs last meetingwhich was in November 2022 in Bali, Indonesia, a senior administration official said Tuesday evening.

Although the Biden administration has a number of goals for the meeting, key among them is the resumption of military communications, which were suspended after Ex. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited Taiwan last year. Diplomatic lines of communication have continued.

President Joe Biden greets Chinese President Xi Jinping at the Filoli Estate in Woodside, Calif., Wednesday, Nov. 15, 2023, on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperative conference. (Doug Mills/The New York Times via AP, Pool)

Doug Mills/AP

“To get back on a normal course of corresponding, being able to pick up the phone and talk to each other if there’s a crisis,” said Mr. Biden on Tuesday, asking what he would consider the outcome of a successful meeting with Xi. “Being able to ensure that our military still has contact with each other.”

A senior administration official noted early Wednesday that when the Chinese spy balloon crossed over the United States, “we had no way of communicating with the Chinese. It’s not responsible, and we hope to be able to at least take some preliminary steps tomorrow.”

The senior official said “over the last several years, there has been a “consolidation of power by one man — President Xi.” The official added “frankly, if you’re really going to do serious diplomacy, it has to happen at the right time. top, so the stakes really just couldn’t be higher. And yes, I think if you want to affect change in the Chinese system, if you want to have a clear chance to try to affect certain outcomes, it comes down to a meeting like this.”

In any leadership-level meeting, especially between countries like the United States and China, there are “weeks and weeks” of discussion about the agenda, National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said. Mr Kirby said Mr Biden and Mr Xi have known each other for years and can be “sincere and straightforward” with each other.

“I think the table has again been set over many weeks for what we hope will be a very productive, honest and constructive conversation here,” Kirby said. “… He will not be afraid to confront where there is a need for confrontation on certain issues where we do not see eye to eye with President Xi and China, but we will not be afraid nor should we be scared. as a confident nation to engage in diplomacy about ways we can work with China.”

Kirby said he has “no doubt” on the subject Hamas-Israel conflict in the Middle East will come up in the discussion. He also reiterated that the administration does not support independence for Taiwan, but the administration still wants to see Taiwan’s economy continue to flourish.

In general, the White House says the administration’s goals at the summit are to improve and increase U.S. investment in the Asia-Pacific region and the region’s investment in the United States; working towards better labor standards and cleaner environments; and building a more inclusive economy across the region.

“We’re not trying to decouple from China,” Mr. Biden to reporters on Tuesday. “What we’re trying to do is change the relationship for the better. From my perspective, if indeed the Chinese people who are in trouble right now, economically … if the average citizen of China was able to have a decent paying jobs, it benefits them and it benefits us all. But I will not continue to support positions where if you want to invest in China, we have to turn over all our trade secrets.”

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