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China’s Xi in US for high-stakes Biden summit: APEC

15-11-2023

SAN FRANCISCO: Chinese President Xi Jinping began his first visit to the United States in six years on Tuesday, after President Joe Biden said he aimed to restore normal communications with Beijing and his top diplomat stressed the need for freedoms that Washington says Beijing is undermining in the Asia-Pacific region.

Xi is on his first visit to the U.S. since 2017. He is due to meet Biden at an undisclosed location in the San Francisco Bay Area on Wednesday morning and then attend the annual summit of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum.

Xi’s summit with Biden will be the firstface-to-face meeting between the U.S. and Chinese leaders in a year and has been billed by U.S. officials as an opportunity to reduce friction in what many see as the world’s most dangerous rivalry.

Xi waved from the steps of his Air China plane upon arrival and descended to meet U.S. officials on the tarmac, including Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen and U.S. Ambassador to China Nicholas Burns.

He then got into his Chinese Hongqi, or “Red Flag,” limousine and departed the airport into San Francisco, where demonstrations are expected both for and against his visit.

Less than two hours earlier, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken addressed ministers of the 21-member APEC and stressed the U.S. believed in “a region where economies are free to choose their own path … where goods, ideas, people flow lawfully and freely.”

Blinken did not mention China by name, but his language echoed U.S. rhetoric in recent years in which Washington has accused China of bullying smaller countries in the Indo-Pacific and trying to undermine what the U.S. and its allies call the “rules-based” order.

U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai, who with Blinken opened the APEC ministerial session, said the San Francisco meeting came at a time of “great uncertainty and challenges” for the region. She noted increasing geopolitical tensions, fragile supply chains and a worsening climate crisis.

Earlier, Biden said he aimed to improve the relationship with China after a period of strained ties and would seek to resume normal communications between the two superpowers, including military-to-military contacts.

White House national security spokesperson John Kirby told reporters that Biden and Xi would also talk about the Israel-Hamas conflict in Gaza as well as U.S. efforts to support Ukraine in its fight against the Russian military.

Economic issues will be high on the agenda.

Biden said the U.S. does not want to decouple from China, but wants to change the economic relationship for the better. His administration has made a push to “de-risk” some critical U.S. supply chains from China as the two countries’ economic and military competition has grown. (Int’l Monitoring Desk)

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