Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping: Achieving Progress
Historic Summit between Biden and Chinese President Xi JinpingHistoric Summit between Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping

Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping’s Historic Summit

President Joe Biden met face-to-face with his counterpart Chinese President Xi Jinping, on Wednesday, breaking a year-long silence that had raised concerns of escalating tensions between the two nations. The four-hour summit, held at the 654-acre Foothill Estate in Woodside, approximately 35 miles south of San Francisco, marked a significant step in addressing issues such as reviving inactive military communication channels, cracking down on fentanyl smuggling, and collaborating on advancements in artificial intelligence.

During a subsequent press conference, Biden expressed optimism about the most productive and constructive conversation they had in over a year. He emphasized the agreement to directly call each other and engage in direct communication as needed, signaling a thaw in their previously limited interactions.

However, the meeting did not yield progress on longstanding issues, particularly regarding Taiwan, which has strained relations between the world’s two largest economies. There were no indications that Biden was reassessing his belief in China as a strong and potentially dangerous adversary.

Biden’s Balancing Act: Pragmatism in U.S.-China Relations

Biden urged against unquestioningly embracing China’s pledges for cooperation, harkening back to a sentiment expressed by former President Ronald Reagan in the 1980s when addressing arms control accords with the Soviet Union: “Trust but verify.”

When asked if he viewed Chinese President Xi Jinping as an adversary, especially considering Xi’s recent comments about the U.S., Biden acknowledged the differences in their governance but emphasized the need to engage in reasonable and manageable dialogue to prevent conflict.

Biden and Xi Jinping meet up
Biden and Xi Jinping meet up

Despite these diplomatic exchanges, Biden’s comments on the sensitive issue of Taiwan did not reveal a significant shift in his approach. China criticized Biden’s remarks as extremely inaccurate and irresponsible, reflecting the sensitivity of the topic.

Biden Questions China’s Promises Amid Competing Interests

In response to questions about his characterization of Chinese President Xi Jinping as an “amigo,” a term he used in reference to Xi’s explanation of the word during the summer, Biden confirmed the description. He noted that Chinese President Xi Jinping is the leader of a country with a communist government, fundamentally different from the U.S. government.

However, Biden’s comments did not offer much hope for improved future relations, with him making it clear that he wouldn’t accept China’s promises of cooperation at face value.

While acknowledging competition between the U.S. and China, Biden highlighted three areas where the two leaders found consensus—working on reducing the flow of fentanyl, resuming military-to-military communication channels, and addressing “misunderstandings” that could lead to real conflicts.

Biden Addresses Opioid Crisis and Military Talks with China

On the domestic front, Biden addressed the critical issue of opioid overdoses in the U.S., noting the necessity of tackling the worst drug crisis facing the country, resulting in tens of thousands of American deaths annually.

The talks also touched on military communications, and Biden welcomed the announcement of the restoration of military-to-military dialogues, aimed at preventing inadvertent conflicts. He stressed the importance of avoiding “critical misinterpretations” in operational activities.

The situation in Taiwan remains a complex issue for both nations. While China aims to reunify Taiwan with the mainland, asserting its claim to the democratic island, Biden has not endorsed China’s “One China” policy and has expressed concern about aggressive actions that could threaten Taiwan.

Biden Raises Taiwan Concerns, China Stresses Reunification

Biden asked about the respect for Taiwan’s electoral process before the island’s presidential elections in January. In response, Chinese President Xi Jinping gave reasons stating that peace is “good for everyone,” but ultimately, there is a need to move towards a solution, according to American officials.

A Chinese official, Hu Chunying, who participated in the high-level meeting, said Chinese President Xi Jinping mentioned that the Taiwan issue is the most important and sensitive matter in China-U.S. relations.

He further stated that the U.S. should support peaceful reunification with China. In a post, he said, “China will feel the reunification again, and this cannot be stopped.”

Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping’s Diplomatic Encounter

Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping greeted each other around 11:15 AM local time. As Chinese President Xi Jinping left his limousine, he walked towards the historic Blair House, where Biden was waiting at the door. Before entering the building, they briefly shook hands and waved to the media.

Inside, they faced each other across a long rectangular table with Chinese and American flags on either end. Their respective delegations were also present. Biden stood alongside Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen.

In his opening remarks, Biden said that the previous meetings between the leaders have always been “frank, direct, and useful.” He emphasized that the competition between China and the United States should not turn into conflicts, a stance he has maintained for months.

“I value my conversations because I think it’s most important that you and I understand each other clearly, leader to leader, without miscommunication or misunderstanding,” Biden said.

Xi-Biden Summit Highlights

Chinese President Xi Jinping responded next, stating through a translator that the relationship between the two countries is the most important mutual relationship in the world. He emphasized that for large countries like China and the U.S., turning against each other is not an option.

“Anticipating one party to gear up for another confrontation is impractical, and conflicts and confrontations carry unbearable consequences for both parties,” remarked Chinese President Xi Jinping.

 

The summit had a few light moments. Biden will turn 81 on Monday. Xi’s wife shares the same birthdate. When Biden wished him a happy birthday, Chinese President Xi Jinping joked that he was working so hard that he forgot about it. The Chinese leader thanked Biden for the birthday wishes. After the news conference, Biden participated in an evening re

Biden Labels Xi Jinping as a 'Dictator' Post-Summit
Biden Labels Xi Jinping as a ‘Dictator’ Post-Summit

ception for leaders of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), attended by Vice President Kamala Harris and First Lady Jill Biden.

This summit is the first meeting between the two leaders since the ASEAN summit in Bali, Indonesia, a year ago. It’s also the first time Chinese President Xi Jinping has set foot in the U.S. since 2017.

A few hours before the meeting, White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby told reporters: “In my mind, we all expect that this will be a productive discussion today. And we hope that there will be further engagements and discussions between our two teams.”

Biden’s Diplomatic Approach to China

U.S. officials have said that during the past year, relations between the U.S. and China have deteriorated to a point where the risk of an unintended clash has increased. For example, when the Biden administration expelled a Chinese spy plane that flew over the entire United States in February, there was no way to talk to the Chinese because Beijing had closed a crucial military communication channel, a senior U.S. official told reporters on Tuesday.

Biden’s aides believe he is participating in the meeting from a position of strength. While China is struggling with high youth unemployment and struggling with investment from foreign companies, Biden has taken pride in strong economic growth with low unemployment in the United States.

After arriving in San Francisco on Monday, Biden participated in a fundraising event for the Democratic Party in the evening, where he said: “Chinese President Xi Jinping is another example of how American leadership is being restored in the world. He has real issues, folks.

Blinken’s Agenda for China Summit

Preparations for the summit have been ongoing for months. According to an American official included in China’s policy, Blinken preferred to restart military-to-military talks with China along with stopping the flow of drugs. He raised these issues directly four times with senior Chinese officials, including Vice President Han Zhen and Foreign Minister Wang Yi, during his visit to China in June.

When Wang visited the U.S., Blinken mentioned the close call of an American military plane with a Chinese fighter jet over the South China Sea. He used the story to highlight the need to clarify why both countries need to restore military channels to prevent accidents and to explain why it is necessary to revive military channels in the South China Sea.

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