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Biden, Xi gear up for high-stakes summit in San Francisco

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US President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping are slated to meet at a crucial summit in San Francisco on Wednesday, aiming to prevent their nations’ rivalry from escalating into conflict.

The leaders will engage in three hours of talks, addressing soaring tensions over issues such as Taiwan, sanctions, and trade. The meeting, set against the backdrop of an APEC summit, will commence with a formal handshake at 10:45 am, followed by closed-door bilateral discussions and a working lunch.

In a pre-summit gesture, President Biden expressed a desire to improve relations with China, emphasizing that the US is not seeking to decouple. However, he later underscored concerns about China’s challenges under Xi’s leadership while asserting efforts to “reestablish American leadership in the world.” China responded, emphasizing the need for mutual respect to stabilize and enhance relations.

The leaders, who last met in November 2022, confront strained relations, compounded by the US shooting down a purported Chinese spy balloon earlier this year. The summit unfolds amidst a broader struggle for global dominance between the two powers, with Taiwan emerging as a particularly sensitive issue.

Anticipated topics include Biden cautioning against Chinese interference in upcoming Taiwanese elections and efforts to restore the military hotline severed by Beijing. Expectations for major announcements are modest, but discussions on issues like limiting Chinese exports of fentanyl and addressing global conflicts are on the agenda.

China and the US also pledged collaboration on climate change on the eve of the summit. Xi aims to advocate for an end to trade curbs and sanctions, hosting a dinner with US executives to reinforce China as an attractive investment destination. Both leaders, with a history dating back almost a decade and a half, hope to navigate the complexities of their competitive relationship in this critical summit.

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