Joe Biden to pressure Xi Jinping to reopen military communications at San Francisco summit

By | November 10, 2023

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Joe Biden will press Xi Jinping on the need to restart communications between the US and Chinese militaries when the two presidents hold a summit ahead of next week’s Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum.

The White House said Friday that Biden and Xi would meet Wednesday in the San Francisco Bay Area before attending Apec. Both sides are trying to step up efforts to stabilize relations amid growing tensions over issues including Chinese military activity near Taiwan and U.S. efforts to prevent China from obtaining cutting-edge U.S. technology.

The summit will be their second in-person meeting as leaders and will take place a year after their met at the G20 in Bali, Indonesia. Xi has not been to the United States since April 2017, when he met then-President Donald Trump in Florida. Xi is expected to attend a dinner with US leaders after his meeting with Biden.

U.S. officials said the leaders would discuss a range of issues, including the prospect of reopening military communications channels that China closed last year after the speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives visited Taiwan. , Nancy Pelosi.

Washington expressed concerns over Chinese fighter jets flying too close to American spy planes and surveillance aircraft flown by U.S. allies, including Canada, over the South China Sea.

“The president is committed to taking the steps necessary to restore what we view as central communication between the United States and China militarily,” a U.S. official said.

The official said Biden would raise concerns with Xi about “dangerous” and “provocative” Chinese military activity around Taiwan, which has skyrocketed since the U.S. president took office nearly three years ago. years.

“The president has always made these points, and he will do so again next week in San Francisco,” the official said.

The officials said Biden would also discuss the Ukraine conflict with Xi. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said Friday that she told her counterpart He Lifeng during a two-day meeting in San Francisco that the United States wants Beijing to crack down on private Chinese companies selling equipment to Russia to facilitate Moscow’s war with Kiev.

“I stressed. . . that it is essential for us that companies do not supply equipment to the Russian defense industrial sector and that we were ready to put in place new sanctions,” Yellen said. “We would like to see China crack down (on companies), especially when we provide information.”

The officials stressed that the Biden-Xi summit, which followed months of high-level engagements, marked not a shift in U.S. policy toward China but a recognition that the powers needed channels of communication effective.

“Intense competition necessitates and demands intense diplomacy to manage tensions and prevent competition from escalating into conflict,” the US official said. “Diplomacy is how we clear up misconceptions, signal, communicate, avoid surprises, and explain our competitive steps. »

Xie Feng, China’s ambassador to the United States, said the two presidents would have “in-depth communication on issues of strategic, paramount and fundamental importance to shaping China-US relations and on major issues concerning peace and security.” development in the world.

US-China relations are in their worst state since the two countries normalized diplomatic relations in 1979. Washington is concerned about issues such as China’s export of ingredients for making food products. fentanyla synthetic opioid that is now the leading cause of death among young Americans.

Beijing, meanwhile, criticizes U.S. efforts to restrict its military modernization through export controls intended to slow its progress in developing advanced chips for applications such as artificial intelligence and quantum computing.

When the two leaders met in Bali last November, they agreed on the need to stabilize relations to reduce the chances of growing competition between the rivals escalating into military conflict.

But efforts to establish a “floor” for the relationship failed when a suspected Chinese spy balloon flew over the United States in February.

Yellen said the United States and China had improved communications in recent months. She said she had held in-depth discussions on China’s economy with He, China’s vice premier, and that Beijing planned to “strongly tackle” its domestic economic problems, including its market crisis. real estate.

The Treasury secretary said Chinese officials want to avoid further inflating the country’s real estate market or adding more debt to local government balance sheets. “They don’t want to put in place measures that would stimulate the economy in the short term, but at the cost of exacerbating long-term problems,” Yellen said.

Noting the decline in Chinese holdings of U.S. Treasuries, she said Chinese officials were keen to prevent further depreciation of their currency and “it would not be surprising if they reduced Treasury holdings to some extent in order to to support their currency.

Yellen said the two sides did not discuss Beijing’s delay in approving U.S. chip group Broadcom’s $69 billion acquisition of VMware, which forced the companies to postpone completion of the merger.

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