Months of progress
The meeting between the two presidents has been planned for months. Xi’s commitment was preceded by numerous meetings between top government officials from both sides. Biden, among others, sent Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen and Commerce Minister Gina Raimondo to China. Biden’s national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, met with China’s chief diplomat Wang Yi in Vienna and Malta. Wang Yi finally traveled to Washington in late October. All of this is in preparation for the bosses’ meeting.
Meanwhile, there is talk of a meeting between the two on the sidelines of the G20 Summit in New Delhi, India, next September. However, at the time, Xi sent Premier Li Qiang as his deputy – perhaps in response to difficult relations with neighboring India. So now the high-level meeting is not taking place in the independent region, but in the American region.
US government officials stressed that the meeting was planned in the Bay Area, which includes the San Francisco area. They didn’t get more specific. Xi was last in the US in 2017: During that visit, he met US President Trump at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida. Xi last traveled to San Francisco when he was a young party official, a top US government official said. The location of the meeting alone offers a different aspect compared to meeting in the capital. This is more than just a bilateral meeting on the sidelines of a summit. Heads of state take a lot of time to discuss various topics in detail.
Biden and Xi have a long history together, starting 12 years ago when they both served as vice president. Biden boasts of his decades-long foreign policy experience and relationships with major international players. In his speeches, he often says that he spends more time with Xi than any other head of state or government. Since Biden became president, he has only met Xi once: at the G20 summit in Bali in November 2022. After that, there was radio silence between the two. They have also rarely spoken by phone since Biden took office. The meeting in California was the seventh private meeting between the two during Biden’s term, a US government official confirmed.
Hope for the meeting
US government representatives initially tempered expectations. List of unexpected results. “It’s really about managing competition, reducing the risk of conflict and ensuring communication channels are open.” The goal is to stabilize the relationship. Even experts find it difficult to expect real results. China expert at the US Center for Strategic and International Studies, Jude Blanchette, said: “The heart of this meeting is the meeting itself.”
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