Biden, Xi meet in San Francisco

Leaders agree to tackle fentanyl, resume military talks

- Francesca Chambers and Maureen Groppe

WOODSIDE, Calif. – President Joe Biden’s multihour summit with Chinese President Xi Jinping on Wednesday led to progress on fighting fentanyl and a resumption of communicat­ion between each other.

Xi agreed to take steps to curtail the supply of chemicals being used to make fentanyl, Biden said at a news conference Wednesday. China also agreed to create mechanisms to improve communicat­ion between military leaders, he said.

“We’re talking to our competitor­s, just talking and being blunt with one another so there’s no misunderst­anding, as a key element to maintainin­g global stability and delivering for the American people,” Biden told reporters.

Chinese state media described the agreements as establishi­ng a working group on counternar­cotics cooperatio­n and resuming high-level military-to-military communicat­ion.

Biden said that “in the months ahead” the high-level diplomacy would continue, “including between President Xi and me” and the leaders “agreed that each one of us can pick up the phone, call directly and we’ll be heard immediatel­y.”

Biden later reaffirmed his view, in response to a question from a reporter, that he views Xi as a dictator, adding, “Well, look, he is.”

On Taiwan, the topic that’s the most volatile issue in U.S.China relations, Xi stressed the need for an eventual resolution, according to the White House.

China views Taiwan as part of its territory, while Taiwan sees itself as an independen­t, sovereign nation. Biden has provided Taiwan with military support, but the U.S. has stressed it does not support Taiwan independen­ce.

Xi told Biden there are no plans for military action, but at some point, the situation needs to be resolved, the senior administra­tion official told reporters.

Biden said he also brought up Russia’s war against Ukraine and the conflict in the Gaza Strip in the blunt conversati­on that lasted more than four hours. And he said he gave Xi the names of American citizens who are being wrongfully detained or subject to exit bans in China.

“Hopefully we can get them released,” Biden said. “No agreement on that.”

Biden addressed the media in an ornate room of a Bay Area mansion after his meeting with Xi, which included a casual stroll around the grounds of the private estate. As they walked along a brick path, Biden gave a thumbs up to the reporters watching from a distance.

Xi left without engaging with the press.

‘We’re back to direct open, clear, direct communicat­ions’

Agreements on fentanyl and military-to-military contacts had been expected out of the summit, which took place alongside the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperatio­n summit.

Xi recently removed his defense minister. When a replacemen­t is announced, that person will meet with Pentagon chief Lloyd Austin, a U.S. official who briefed reporters on the condition of anonymity said.

“That’s been cut off and it’s been worrisome,” Biden said of the military contacts. “That’s how accidents happen. Misunderst­andings. So we’re back to direct open, clear, direct communicat­ions on a direct basis. Vital miscalcula­tions on either side can cause real trouble with a country like China, or any other major country.”

In brief remarks before the cameras earlier in the day, Biden reestablis­hed his view that direct communicat­ion between the leaders could prevent a military conflict. But from the outset of the meeting, they disagreed over Biden’s oft-repeated use of the word “competitio­n” to describe the relationsh­ip.

In a reproach of Biden’s descriptio­n of the relationsh­ip, Xi said it remains his view that “major-country competitio­n is not the prevailing trend of current times and cannot solve the problems facing China and the United States or the world at large.

“Planet Earth is big enough for the two countries to succeed, and one country’s success is an opportunit­y for the other,” Xi said.

The leaders met at Filoli Historic House & Garden, a private estate located just outside San Francisco. The mansion is part of a 654-acre property that boasts 16 acres of English Renaissanc­e gardens, 250 fruit trees, and a pool pavilion.

Biden and Xi last met on the sidelines of the Group of 20 Summit a year ago this week. The leaders were expected to discuss Taiwan and fentanyl among other issues in San Francisco.

Ahead of the meeting, they shared a handshake. Biden put both his hands on Xi’s and ushered him down a red carpet and toward the mansion. They shook hands a second time at the entryway before Biden, who gently put his hand on Xi’s back in a sign of familiarit­y, followed the Chinese leader inside.

Sitting with their delegation­s at a long conference table, Biden said that he has “never doubted” what Xi tells him in their conversati­ons. “We haven’t always agreed, which was not a surprise to anyone, but our meetings have always been candid, straightfo­rward, and useful,” Biden said.

Relationsh­ip spans more than a decade

The leaders have known each other for more than a decade. They spent time together in China in 2011, when they were vice presidents of their respective nations, and in Washington the following year.

“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,” Biden said, mentioning that the U.S. does not want the economic competitio­n between the nations to “veer into conflict.”

Xi recalled their last meeting, on the tropical Indonesia island of Bali a year ago, and told Biden in a veiled reference to skirmishes in the Middle East and a spy balloon incident, “A lot has happened since then.”

The Chinese president said the relationsh­ip between Washington and Beijing is the “most important bilateral relationsh­ip in the world” and should develop in a way that benefits both nations.

“China-U.S. relationsh­ip has never been smooth sailing over the past 50 years and more, and it always faces problems of one kind or another,” Xi said through an interprete­r. “Yet, it has kept moving forward amid twists and turns.”

Xi was expected to bring up the Biden administra­tion’s efforts to restrict the Chinese government’s access to advanced computer chips that the U.S. worries it will put to use developing artificial intelligen­ce and sophistica­ted weapons. In front of cameras before their meeting, he said that “protection­ism is rising” and called it a “grave” problem.

“For two large countries like China and the United States, turning their back on each other is not an option. It is unrealisti­c for one side to remodel the other, and conflict and confrontat­ion has unbearable consequenc­es for both sides,” Xi said.

 ?? BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP VIA GETTY IMAGES ?? U.S. President Joe Biden walks with Chinese President Xi Jinping as they meet at Filoli Estate during the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperatio­n (APEC) Leaders’ week in Woodside, Calif., on Wednesday.
BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP VIA GETTY IMAGES U.S. President Joe Biden walks with Chinese President Xi Jinping as they meet at Filoli Estate during the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperatio­n (APEC) Leaders’ week in Woodside, Calif., on Wednesday.

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