Biden, Xi to hold summit in California amid hopes for improved ties

November 15, 2023

U.S. President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping are set to hold a high-stakes summit in the San Francisco Bay Area on Wednesday, amid expectations that it will help improve bilateral ties between the two superpowers.

Their first in-person meeting in about a year is set to take place reportedly at Filoli, a secluded estate just south of San Francisco, where South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol and other world leaders will attend the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum this week.

The summit comes as the Biden administration has been striving to restore normal bilateral military communication channels, which were suspended after former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan in August last year, in tune with its drive to “de-risk” the Sino-U.S. relationship.

On the eve of the meeting, Biden struck an amicable note, underscoring that the United States is not trying to “decouple” from China, but seeking to change the bilateral relationship “for the better.”

The relationship between Washington and Beijing has been on a bumpy road amid the two countries’ intensifying strategic competition over maritime security, trade, technological leadership, the imposition of sanctions and other geopolitical issues.

At Wednesday’s summit, the leaders are expected to discuss a “whole range” of issues, including bilateral relations, North Korean threats, Taiwan, the war between Israel and the Hamas militant group, and Russia’s protracted war in Ukraine, according to Biden’s aides.

In particular, they could explore ways to cooperate in preventing the Israel-Hamas war from escalating into a wider regional conflict, observers said, as Washington has hoped Beijing would use its ties with Iran to help defuse tensions in the Middle East.

On Taiwan, a self-ruling democracy that China regards as part of its territory, the U.S. side is expected to reaffirm its One-China policy and its focus on maintaining the “status quo” and ensuring peace and stability, according to Biden aides.

The planned meeting between Biden and Xi will be their second in-person talks following their last summit during the Group of 20 summit in Bali, Indonesia, last November. It will also mark their seventh interaction since Biden took office in January 2021.

Meanwhile, the APEC summit is set to bring together representatives from 21 APEC member economies under the theme of creating a “resilient” and “sustainable” future for all. Participants include South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida.

Formed in 1989, APEC, a group of Pacific Rim countries, represents 40 percent of the world’s population, nearly half of global trade and over 60 percent of the global economy. The U.S. last hosted the APEC summit in Honolulu in 2011.