The White House said Monday that President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping will discuss improving communication and competitiveness between the two countries this week during talks at the top level meeting of the Organization for Asian Economic Cooperation. – Pacific (APEC).
Wednesday’s meeting in San Francisco will be the first between the two leaders in a year and is aimed at easing tensions between the two superpowers. White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan told reporters that President Biden believes direct diplomacy alone is no substitute for face-to-face diplomacy to manage the complex relationship.
“We expect the two leaders to discuss some of the most fundamental elements of the bilateral relationship, including the importance of open lines of communication and handling competition responsibly so that it does not turn into conflict,” Mr Sullivan said.
“The way such a thing is accomplished is through intensive diplomacy. This is how misunderstandings and surprises are avoided,” he said.
Mr. Sullivan said President Biden goes into the meeting in a strong position, as the United States has achieved “the strongest recovery and the lowest inflation of any leading economy.”
He said Washington expects concrete results from the meeting and hopes to see progress in restoring military ties with China and fighting the fentanyl trade.
China cut off military communications with the United States last year after a visit by then-US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to Taiwan.
The strained relationship worsened further when President Biden ordered the downing of a Chinese balloon that crossed into US airspace in February.
Mr Sullivan said that communication between the militaries would ensure that competition does not turn into conflict and that China had been “constructive” on the issue in dialogue before the summit.
Presidents Biden and Xi have known each other for more than a decade and have held lengthy talks several times since President Biden’s inauguration in 2021. But they come to this meeting with mutual suspicions and resentments toward each other.
Among other sensitive topics, Mr. Biden is expected to address Chinese efforts to interfere in foreign elections and the status of American citizens who Washington believes are wrongfully detained in China.
President Biden, 80, presides over an economy that has exceeded expectations and strengthened more than that of other rich countries after the COVID-19 pandemic.
Although his support among voters is low, he is seeking a second term in office amid concerns about the stability of US democracy.
However, Mr. Biden has managed to unite traditional allies from Europe to Asia in support of Ukraine in the face of Russian aggression, although some of them have differences over the Israel-Hamas conflict.
Mr Xi has become the most powerful Chinese leader since Mao Zedong, tightening control over politics, state leaders, the media and the military and changing the constitution.
More recently, complex economic challenges have derailed the country from its three-decade growth trajectory.
President Biden is expected to tell Mr. Xi that US commitments in the Indo-Pacific remain unchanged. China has caused concern among its neighbors in recent years with actions in the Taiwan Strait, the South China Sea and the East China Sea.
President Biden is also expected to ask his counterpart Xi to exert influence on Iran not to try to expand the conflict in the Middle East, officials said.
APEC leaders will meet in San Francisco from Wednesday to Friday.