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President Joe Biden

Biden’s high-stakes meeting with Xi comes amid global turmoil

President Joe Biden will meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping Wednesday on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit in San Francisco, the first face-to-face interaction between the leaders of the world’s leading economic powers in more than a year.

Biden and Xi — who is spending four days in the United States during this trip — are looking to manage rising economic and military tensions between the two superpowers even as the world suddenly looks far more unstable.

The war between Israel and Hamas is growing in scale and intensity following Hamas’ Oct. 7 terror attacks. The winter fighting season could lead to a significant recalibration in Ukraine’s efforts to fight off the Russian invasion. China’s growing aggression against Taiwan and in the South China Sea has pushed the Biden administration to seek new alliances throughout the region.

Congress currently has no path to approving new aid for Israel, Ukraine or Taiwan, certainly a good thing in the eyes of Xi. And Biden will surely emphasize to Xi, as Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer did, that Beijing shouldn’t take steps that help Russia or Iran.

Senior Biden administration officials have been huddling with some of their Chinese counterparts during the period leading up to Wednesday’s session, including Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen.

The White House also wants to restart high-level military contacts between the United States and China. These were cut off after former Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited Taiwan in August 2022. Those tensions were further inflamed after a Chinese high-altitude spy balloon was shot down off the South Carolina coast in February.

“Well, this has been a priority for President Biden,” National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said on CBS’ “Face The Nation.” “He believes that having military-to-military communication is necessary to manage competition responsibly, and to ensure that competition does not turn into conflict.”

Xi will push back against U.S. efforts to restrict high-tech transfers to China and other economic restrictions.

The Coverage

AP: “What they want: Biden and Xi are looking for clarity in an increasingly difficult relationship,” by Aamer Madhani and Didi Tang

CNN: “Six years on from cake at Mar-a-Lago, China’s Xi returns to a much warier US,” by Nectar Gan

Bloomberg: “China Weighs Ending Freeze on Boeing With 737 Max Deal in US,” by Julie Johnsson, Siddharth Vikram Philip, and Jenny Leonard

— Andrew Desiderio and John Bresnahan

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