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Montevideo, November 29th 2023 - 08:49 UTC



Biden, Xi resume direct talks after over a year of top-level silence

Thursday, November 16th 2023 - 10:18 UTC
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Both leaders had a “candid” conversation where no major breakthroughs were expected Both leaders had a “candid” conversation where no major breakthroughs were expected

After going no contact for over a year, Presidents Joseph Biden of the United States and Xi Jinping of China met Wednesday in San Francisco on the sides of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit.

Both leaders were reported to have maintained a “candid” conversation during which they agreed to address the fentanyl question, restore military-to-military direct contacts, and explore the risks of artificial intelligence for the years ahead.

Having last met at the G20 Bali Summit for the last time, this year's encounter was staged with full honors at the Filoli estate in Woodside, California, some 40 miles away from San Francisco. The location became known worldwide as one of the settings of the TV show “Dynasty.”

“I know the man,” Biden said. “We have disagreements, but he has been straight,” Biden argued. “We have not always agreed, which is not a surprise to anyone, but our meetings have always been frank, direct, and useful,” he went on while underlining the importance of direct contact between the two powers and “leader to leader.”

“I've just concluded a day of meetings with President Xi, and I believe they were some of the most constructive and productive discussions we've had,” Biden wrote on X. “We built on groundwork laid over the past several months of diplomacy between our countries and made important progress,” he went on.

“We’re back to direct, open, clear, direct communications,” Biden also explained. “Vital miscalculations on either side can cause real, real trouble with a country like China or any other major country,” he elaborated.

According to China’s Global Times, contacts “based on equality and respect” will include working meetings between defense departments and a bilateral “maritime security consultation mechanism.”

“China does not have a plan to surpass or unseat the United States. Likewise, the United States should not scheme to suppress and contain China,” Xi told Biden, according to Xinhua.

The US and China have clashed over Taiwan and accused each other of stirring up tensions in the Asia-Pacific and beyond. Relations deteriorated further in early 2023 when the Pentagon claimed Beijing had flown a spy balloon over American territory. China, meanwhile, insisted that the airship was a weather balloon that had veered off course.

“So, today with this new understanding, we're taking action to significantly reduce the flow of precursor chemicals and pill presses from China to the Western Hemisphere. It's going to save lives and I appreciate President Xi's commitment,” Biden told reporters in a post-meeting press conference.

“We are going to get our experts together to discuss risk and safety issues associated with artificial intelligence,” Biden also pointed out. “These are tangible steps in the right direction.”

For his part, Xi said the China-U.S. relationship is “the most important bilateral relationship in the world” and should be nurtured in a way that benefits everyone. “For two large countries like China and the United States, turning their back on each other is not an option. It is unrealistic for one side to remodel the other. Conflict and confrontation have unbearable consequences for both sides,” Xi also said through a translator.

Biden and Xi also discussed the ongoing wars in Europe and the Middle East, as well as the “most sensitive issue” of Taiwan, according to Chinese Foreign Ministry sources. “President Xi pointed out that the Taiwan question remains the most important and most sensitive issue in China-U.S. relations,” Hua Chunying, assistant minister of foreign affairs, wrote on X.

“We maintain an agreement that there is a one-China policy and that I'm not going to change that,” Biden also said. However, both leaders discussed Taiwan's upcoming presidential elections in January.

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