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Tuesday, November 28, 2023

Biden and Xi to Meet in San Francisco Amid High Tensions and Low Expectations

US President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping are expected to meet next week in San Francisco, on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit.

The meeting will be the first face-to-face encounter between the two leaders since Biden took office in January, and comes amid a series of conflicts and challenges that have strained the relations between the world’s two largest economies.

The US and China have been at odds over a range of issues, including trade, human rights, technology, cybersecurity, Taiwan, Hong Kong, the South China Sea, and the origins of the Covid-19 pandemic. The Biden administration has maintained a tough stance on China, calling it a strategic competitor and a systemic rival, and has sought to rally allies and partners to counter China’s growing influence and assertiveness.

China, on the other hand, has accused the US of interfering in its internal affairs, undermining its sovereignty and security, and containing its development and rise.


The meeting in San Francisco is seen as an opportunity for the two leaders to communicate directly and candidly, and to explore ways to manage their differences and avoid further escalation and confrontation. However, both sides have downplayed the prospects of any major breakthroughs or agreements, and have set low expectations for the outcome of the meeting.

According to a person familiar with the planning, the White House does not anticipate major changes in the US-China relationship as a result of the meeting. While some modest announcements may be made, fundamental differences between the two nations will remain. The purpose of the meeting is to have a deep conversation and create space for further engagement.

Similarly, China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi, who visited Washington last week and met with Biden and other senior US officials, said that the road to the meeting would not be “smooth-sailing” and that both sides must work together to achieve results. Wang said that the two countries must “eliminate interference, overcome obstacles, enhance consensus and accumulate results.

The meeting is also expected to cover some areas of potential cooperation, such as climate change, global health, and regional security. Both sides have expressed their willingness to work together on these issues, despite their disagreements on other fronts. For instance.


The US and China recently announced a joint declaration on enhancing climate action in the 2020s, ahead of the COP26 summit in Glasgow. The two countries also pledged to cooperate on the fight against Covid-19 and the promotion of vaccine equity.

The meeting in San Francisco will be the second time that Biden and Xi meet as heads of state, following their previous meeting at the G20 summit in Bali in 2020, when Biden was vice president.

The two leaders have also spoken on the phone twice this year, in February and September, and exchanged letters and messages on several occasions. The meeting will be closely watched by the international community, as the US-China relationship has significant implications for the stability and prosperity of the world.


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