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Updated Nov 10, 2023, 11:49am EST
politicsNorth America

Biden, Xi meeting set for next week in California

SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images
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The News

U.S. President Joe Biden will meet with Chinese leader Xi Jinping in California next week, senior Biden administration officials confirmed, and will urge China to restore military-to-military communications with the U.S. and discourage interference in Taiwan’s upcoming elections.

The meeting on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit on Wednesday will be the first engagement between Biden and Xi since their talks in Bali about a year ago. It will cover a large range of issues, including matters of disagreement, like human rights, and areas where the U.S. hopes to work with China, like climate change.

One senior administration official told reporters the U.S. had communicated to the Chinese that “basically every element” of the bilateral relationship will be on the table for discussion, acknowledging that fentanyl and artificial intelligence may be among the topics discussed.

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The Biden administration’s overarching goal going into the meeting is to stabilize relations between the U.S. and China at a time of high tensions on a range of issues, and administration officials are setting low expectations for any outcomes.

“We’re not talking about a long list of outcomes or deliverables,” a second senior administration official said. “The goals here really are about managing the competition, preventing the downside risk of conflict and ensuring channels of communication are open.”

The Chinese Foreign Ministry also confirmed Friday that Xi would travel to San Francisco to attend APEC at Biden’s invitation.

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Know More

While the meeting next week looks unlikely to result in major announcements, one area where there could be progress is the resumption of military-to-military communications, which China severed in protest of then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan last year. Axios reported this week that Biden and Xi planned to announce the resumption of military-to-military communications.

Biden and Xi will meet as the world grapples with two wars, and Biden administration officials said the U.S. president would raise both Russia’s war in Ukraine and the Israel-Gaza war. Biden will ask China to use its influence with Iran to communicate to Tehran that it should not escalate the conflict in the Middle East, the first senior administration official said.

With the Taiwan elections approaching in January of next year, officials said they would make clear to the Chinese that the U.S. does not support Taiwan’s independence and that China should not meddle in Taiwan’s elections.

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Step Back

Relations between the U.S. and China are at a low point, exacerbated by the Chinese spy balloon that traversed the U.S. at the beginning of the year and was shot down by the U.S. military. The incident forced Secretary of State Antony Blinken to delay a planned trip to China.

The U.S. has been stepping up engagement with China in the months since, sending multiple Cabinet officials to Beijing to meet with Chinese officials in hopes of opening up more lines of communication between the two countries.

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Notable

  • The Biden administration hopes to reach an agreement with China to curb the flow of fentanyl into the U.S., according to NBC News.
  • The top Democrat on the House select committee on China told Semafor that Biden should press Xi on human rights and economic issues, while working to restore the Fulbright student exchange program and increase commercial flights between both countries.
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