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The leaders of the United States and China, Joe Biden and Xi Jinping, will convene at a grand country estate and museum with beautiful gardens for a private meeting focused on enhancing the relationship between the two dominant nations.
The two heads of state will convene on Wednesday at Filoli, a private property nestled within the Northern California coastal mountains. Originally constructed as a personal home in 1917, it was later designated as a National Trust for Historic Preservation location. The estate is situated approximately 25 miles (40 kilometers) south of San Francisco, where leaders are assembling for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit this week.
Three high-ranking government officials, who requested anonymity, revealed the meeting’s location to address security concerns.
Bonnie Glaser, the director of the Indo-Pacific program at the German Marshall Fund, believes that the chosen location has fulfilled Xi’s desire for a secluded meeting with Biden outside of the main summit location.
Glaser stated that the setting seems to be a tranquil and private estate, allowing Biden and Xi to engage in a personal discussion in a laid-back atmosphere. The location is not affiliated with the APEC summit, making it seem like the two leaders are having a separate bilateral summit rather than being part of the larger APEC summit.
Analysts of Chinese politics have noted that Xi aims to present himself to his domestic supporters as on par with Biden and earning the admiration of a U.S. president.
The property spans over 650 acres (2.6 square kilometers) and boasts a Georgian revival-style mansion and an elegant English Renaissance-style garden. According to the website, the mansion and its surrounding grounds are open to the public every day, with the exception of a three-day closure for holiday preparations.
Jeremi Suri, a professor at the University of Texas at Austin specializing in public affairs and history, believes that a location such as this provides individuals with an opportunity to escape not only the media but also other factors that may contribute to conflict. He suggests that being in this setting may foster positive relationships and lead to increased trust and communication among those involved.
According to Suri, the final leader of the Soviet Union, Mikhail Gorbachev, and U.S. President Ronald Reagan met in a private chateau in Reykjavik in 1986. They spent time together sitting by a fireplace and taking a walk outside while wearing warm coats. This meeting helped to establish a relationship between the two leaders before the dissolution of the Soviet Union.
He stated the importance of having leaders who can overcome fear.
According to the website of the estate, Filoli was named by William Bowers Bourn II, a socialite from San Francisco. He chose the first two letters of important words from his personal beliefs, which were “Fight for a just cause. Love your Fellow Man. Live a Good Life.”
The location is open for private occasions, marriage ceremonies, and commercial recording and photography. The gardens were featured in the movie “The Wedding Planner” starring Jennifer Lopez.
This report was contributed to by Didi Tang and Colleen Long in San Francisco, and Zeke Miller and Matthew Lee in Washington, all of whom are AP writers.