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This week, US President Joe Biden and the Chinese leader Xi Jinping will have their first in-person meeting in over a year in San Francisco.
The heads of the world’s top two economies are anticipated to engage in discussions on Wednesday during the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit. Their goal is to improve and maintain diplomatic relations, which have declined due to disputes surrounding Taiwan, human rights, and spy balloons.
Analysts predict that the main topics of discussion will revolve around China’s assertive behavior towards Taiwan and the South China Sea, as well as exploring ways to enhance trade that benefits both parties, despite their geopolitical disparities.
The perspectives of the leaders on the recent events in the Israel-Hamas conflict and Russia’s incursion into Ukraine are anticipated to be discussed.
Although the negotiations are not expected to resolve the underlying disagreements between the two nations, authorities in Washington are optimistic about the potential for constructive conversations that lead to minor announcements.
There is already a positive outlook that the two leaders will agree to a new joint climate agreement between the US and China. This was sparked by Beijing’s recent announcement of their plan to address methane emissions.
The exact time and location of the meeting between Biden and Xi is unknown, as both governments have chosen not to disclose this information for security purposes.
Karine Jean-Pierre, the White House press secretary, stated that the leaders will converse about the ongoing significance of keeping communication lines open. They will also explore ways to effectively handle competition and collaborate when our interests align, particularly regarding global issues that impact the international community.
Eswar Prasad, a senior professor of trade policy at Cornell University, stated to the Associated Press that the current clash between the two biggest global economies is making the already negative effects of geopolitical shocks on the world economy even worse.
“He stated that halting any additional decline in the mutual economic partnership would already be a triumph for both parties.”
The meeting has been months in the making, with experts dubbing it a “logistics nightmare”. The world leaders will be meeting for only the second time in person since Mr Biden entered office, and the San Francisco summit will mark Mr Xi’s first visit to the US in six years.
They previously met more than a year ago during the 2022 G20 summit in Bali, where they had an extensive conversation that lasted approximately three hours.
The relationship between the two largest economies has become tense due to Washington’s unwavering support for Taiwan, which is a source of contention for China.
According to Beijing, Taipei is required to reunite with the mainland, even if it means using force, and is not allowed to engage in foreign relations. Despite the US’s adherence to the “one China” policy, it is the top supplier of weapons to Taiwan compared to any other country.
Before Taiwan’s presidential election, Beijing anticipates reassurances from Washington that the US does not endorse the island’s sovereignty.
Last year, Beijing suddenly ceased communication with the US military after former House speaker Nancy Pelosi’s trip to Taiwan.
Tsai Ing-wen, the president of Taiwan, visited the United States this year which further strained their relationship.
Since that time, numerous officials from the Biden administration have traveled to Beijing with the goal of reinstating military communication channels.
In the previous month, Beijing removed Li Shangfu from his position as defence minister due to US sanctions. This may result in the possibility of resuming discussions on a military level with the US.
The connection has become tense as Beijing expressed anger towards the recently implemented US export restrictions on advanced technology and President Biden’s decision to take down a Chinese spy balloon that flew over the US.
It is expected that Mr. Biden will bring up the issue of China’s influence on North Korea during his conversation with Mr. Xi. This is especially important due to the current concerns over North Korea’s frequent ballistic missile tests and their supply of weapons to Russia for the conflict in Ukraine.
It is anticipated that President Biden will communicate to President Xi his desire for China to utilize its increasing influence over Iran to ensure that neither Tehran nor its supporters provoke further escalation of the Israel-Hamas conflict.
The current administration holds the belief that China, a significant purchaser of Iranian oil, holds substantial power over Iran, a key supporter of Hamas.
According to two sources familiar with the issue, as reported by the South China Morning Post, leaders are anticipated to vow against utilizing artificial intelligence in autonomous weapons, such as drones, and in the management and deployment of nuclear warheads.
Tens of thousands of individuals are anticipated to gather in San Francisco for the summit, protesting against the climate crisis, corporate actions, the Israel-Hamas conflict, and other pressing matters.
According to Chief Bill Scott of the San Francisco Police Department, his department anticipates multiple daily protests, but is unsure of which ones will occur and at what location and time.