WASHINGTON (Agencies): President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping will meet Wednesday in California for talks on trade, Taiwan and fraught U.S.-Chinese relations in the first engagement in a year between the leaders of the world’s two biggest economies.
The White House has said for weeks that it anticipated Biden and Xi would meet on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in San Francisco, but negotiations went down to the eve of the gathering, which kicks off Saturday.
White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said in a statement the leaders would discuss the “continued importance of maintaining open lines of communication” and how the they “can continue to responsibly manage competition and work together where our interests align, particularly on transnational challenges that affect the international community.”
China’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement Friday that Xi would attend APEC from Tuesday to Friday at Biden’s invitation and would take part in the U.S.-China summit.
Two senior Biden administration officials, who earlier briefed reporters on the condition of anonymity under ground rules set by the White House, said the leaders would meet in the San Francisco Bay area but declined to offer further details because of security concerns. Thousands of protesters are expected to descend on San Francisco during the summit.
Meanwhile, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen and Chinese Vice Premier He Lifeng met for a second day of talks on Friday in San Francisco, the latest in a string of senior level engagements between the nations in recent months aimed at easing tensions.
Yellen said that during the talks she emphasized that the U.S. seeks a healthy economic relationship with China. She called on China to crack down on private Chinese firms and financial institutions that the U.S. believes are skirting international sanction to do business with Russia and she raised concerns about Chinese export controls on graphite in other critical minerals. Graphite is a key raw material in electric vehicle batteries.
Yellen, who visited China in July, said she accepted an invitation to make a return trip to Beijing next year.
“There is no substitute for in-person diplomacy,” said Yellen, who added that she believed the two laid the groundwork for a productive meeting between Biden and Xi. “During our discussions, we agreed in-depth and frank discussions matter, particularly when we disagree.”
The Biden-Xi meeting is not expected to lead to many, if any, major announcements, and differences between the two powers certainly won’t be resolved. Instead, one official said, Biden is looking toward “managing the competition, preventing the downside risk of conflict and ensuring channels of communication are open.” The officials said they believed it would be Xi’s first visit to San Francisco since he was a young Communist Party leader.
The agenda includes no shortage of difficult issues.