/ 15 November 2023

Biden and Xi’s headline hangout

Image source: Getty
Image source: Getty

The Squiz

It’s APEC Leaders’ Week in San Francisco – aka the annual talks between the forum’s 21 member states’ leaders about how trade and economic growth across the Pacific region can be encouraged. PM Anthony Albanese will be there later this week, but it’s a side chat getting top billing with US President Joe Biden coming face-to-face with China’s President Xi Jinping on Wednesday local time. It’s Xi’s first visit to the US since 2017 and just the second time the pair have met in person since Biden moved into the White House in 2021. 

What’s been the problem?

Tensions have been building for years, but US-China relations hit the rocks last year over China’s threats towards Taiwan – and then, in February this year, a Chinese spy balloon floated over the American mainland. And like other Western nations’ the US has been locked in a trade war with China – things hit the skids during the Trump years, and Biden kept things going when he signed an order to restrict China’s access to the computer chips they needed to keep up with the latest advancements in artificial intelligence. So things have been bad, but intense diplomatic efforts over the last year have led to this Biden-Xi meeting. From this meeting, the US wants to reestablish military communication between the nations, as well as combating shipments of the drug fentanyl from China. On China’s end, analysts have concluded that the Chinese economy is in trouble, which might be why Xi will also use his San Francisco trip to meet with American business leaders, including at a ritzy $2,000-a-head dinner

So what should we expect?

A meeting that’s been planned to within an inch of its life… Reports say that American and Chinese officials have been haggling over the smallest bits of choreography, from who should enter the room first and what the pair will eat (note: there were headlines in 2017 when former President Donald Trump and Xi talked over “the most beautiful piece of chocolate cake” – that’s a Trump quote if you haven’t guessed). Security considerations also mean that we don’t have a lot of where-and-when details ahead of the meeting – we just know that Biden and Xi plan to meet sometime on Wednesday in a scrubbed-up San Francisco. Watch this space…

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