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Biden, Xi to hold summit in California amid hopes for improved ties

Nov. 16, 2023 - 09:24 By Yonhap
US President Joe Biden (left) meets with Chinese President Xi Jinping (right) at Filoli estate in Woodside, California, on Wednesday. (Reuters-Yonhap)

US President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping highlighted their shared desire to avoid conflict and pursue cooperation during a high-stakes summit in California on Wednesday, raising hopes for improved ties between the two superpowers.

Their first in-person meeting in a year took place at Filoli estate in Woodside south of San Francisco, where South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol and other world leaders will attend the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum this week.

The summit came as the Biden administration has been striving to restore normal bilateral military communication channels, which were suspended after former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's visit to Taiwan in August last year, in tune with its drive to "de-risk" the Sino-US relationship.

With both leaders noting their relationship spanning more than a decade, the summit started off on an amicable note.

"I value our conversation because I think it's paramount that you and I understand each other clearly, leader to leader with no misconceptions or miscommunication," he said, stressing there is "no substitute" for face-to-face discussions.

"We have to ensure that competition does not veer into conflict and we also have to manage it responsibly," he added.

Casting US- China ties as the "most important bilateral relationship in the world," Xi underlined the need to develop it in a way that "benefits for our two peoples and fulfills our responsibility for human progress."

"For two large countries like China and the US, turning their back on each other is not an option," he said through an interpreter. "It is unrealistic for one side to remodel the other and conflict and confrontation has unbearable consequences for both sides."

He added, "I am still of the view that Planet Earth is big enough for the two countries to succeed and one country's success is an opportunity for the other."

Though he noted differences between the two countries in history, culture, social system and other aspects, Xi expressed his "firm" belief in the "promising" future of the bilateral relationship.

"As long as they respect each other, coexist in peace and pursue winning cooperation, they will be fully capable of rising above differences and find the right way for the two major countries to get along with each other," he said.

The relationship between Washington and Beijing has been on a bumpy road amid the two countries' intensifying strategic competition over maritime security, trade, technological leadership and other geopolitical issues.

At Wednesday's summit, the leaders were expected to discuss a "whole range" of issues, including bilateral relations, North Korean threats, Taiwan, the war between Israel and the Hamas militant group, and Russia's protracted war in Ukraine, according to Biden's aides.

In particular, they could explore ways to cooperate in preventing the Israel-Hamas war from escalating into a wider regional conflict, observers said, as Washington has hoped Beijing would use its ties with Iran to help defuse tensions in the Middle East.

On Taiwan, a self-ruling democracy that China regards as part of its territory, the US side is expected to reaffirm its One-China policy and its focus on maintaining the "status quo" and ensuring peace and stability, according to Biden aides.

On Wednesday, US President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping held a bilateral meeting at Filoli estate in Woodside, California. (Reuters-Yonhap)

The meeting between Biden and Xi was their second in-person talks following their last summit during the Group of 20 summit in Bali, Indonesia, last November. It will also mark their seventh interaction since Biden took office in January 2021.

Meanwhile, the APEC summit is set to bring together representatives from 21 APEC member economies under the theme of creating a "resilient" and "sustainable" future for all. Participants include South Korean President Yoon and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida.

Formed in 1989, APEC, a group of Pacific Rim countries, represents 40 percent of the world's population, nearly half of global trade and over 60 percent of the global economy. The US last hosted the APEC summit in Honolulu in 2011. (Yonhap)