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Biden's meeting with Xi offers opportunity to reset US-China relations

U.S. President Joe Biden will sit down with Chinese President Xi Jinping on Wednesday in an undisclosed location.
Biden's meeting with Xi offers opportunity to reset US-China relations
Posted at 5:50 PM, Nov 12, 2023

This coming week, President Joe Biden will host heads of state and thousands of international business leaders from 21 countries.

Arguably, the most important meeting won't take place at the APEC Summit, but on the sidelines in a still undisclosed location.

When President Biden sits down with Chinese President Xi Jinping this coming Wednesday, it will be an opportunity for a reset in the relationship between the two countries. However, President Biden will also be looking to reassert America's role in the Asia-Pacific.

The United States and China, often called the most important relationship in the world, as they are the two largest economies and two of the most powerful.

“I think there is a recognition on both sides that, you know, it's not going to be possible to negotiate away all the differences that exist or the points of friction. But we have seen positive momentum in recent weeks,” said Patricia Kim, a U.S.-China relations expert at Brookings Institution.

The Chinese spy balloon floating over the United States, fears of a military confrontation over Taiwan and the South China Sea, and an economic standoff over issues like computer chips and other technology, are some of the most recent issues we have seen. 

SEE MORE: Next week's APEC summit will peak at Biden and Xi's vital talks

“All of those things could have been showstoppers and led Xi Jinping to cancel. But it looks like he's going to show up anyway,” said Scott Kennedy, a China expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

When the two men sit down together this week in San Francisco, it will be a year and a day since their last time together at the G20 in Bali.

This time, experts say just meeting and talking is progress.

“One of the most important things about effective diplomacy in the Asia-Pacific region is just showing up,” said Kennedy.

Last year, the two men agreed to stabilize relations and stop the downward spiral. To avoid direct confrontation and to be competitors, not enemies.

But various flashpoints emerged, and progress has been slow. However, Biden and Xi have known each other for a long, long time and understand the value of a stable relationship.

“I think if the U.S. and China fail to work out a functional relationship, the fact is that many global challenges will go neglected. Whether we're talking about climate change or regional conflicts like the wars going on in the Middle East or Ukraine, if the two sides aren't talking and on stable terms, coordinating on such issues is impossible,” said Kim.

And while we've been focusing on the meeting between the two presidents, 21 heads of state will also be at the summit, along with business leaders from those countries.

It's the first APEC meeting hosted in the U.S. since 2011 and only the third on U.S. soil since APEC began in 1989. The summit will be an opportunity for the U.S. to reassert its influence in the Asia-Pacific and an opportunity for business leaders to sign or announce some deals.

Scripps News is an official media partner of this year's 2023 APEC CEO Summit and will have coverage all week long.

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