Nov 15, 2023 - World

Biden-Xi meeting: What to expect

Xi Jinping arrives at San Francisco International Airport on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in San Francisco, California, US, on Tuesday, Nov. 14, 2023. Photo: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images

President Biden and Chinese leader Xi Jinping are set to meet Wednesday in San Francisco for the first time since the G20 summit in Indonesia last November.

The big picture: Biden has publicly sought to temper expectations for the four-hour meeting in San Francisco, but announcements on fentanyl, military communications and other key issues are expected, according to news reports.

  • Biden told reporters on Tuesday that his goals for the meeting are to "get back on a normal course, corresponding and being able to pick up the phone and talk to one another in a crisis, and being able to make sure that our militaries still have contact with one another," Reuters reports.

Details: Biden and Xi are expected to announce a deal that would see Chinese authorities crack down on the chemical companies that produce the deadly opioid fentanyl, Bloomberg reports.

  • The two sides are preparing to announce the resumption of military-to-military communications, Axios reported last week.
  • Beijing is hoping for expanded dialogue related to artificial intelligence, the Financial Times reports — perhaps with the goal of preventing additional U.S. restrictions.
  • Taiwan will likely be a major topic of discussion, though no new assurances from either side are expected.

Yes, but: No joint statement is expected, as the differences between the two leaders remain great, the Financial Times reports.

What's at stake: "With Taiwan's looming presidential election and public confrontation flaring between China and the Philippines over the South China Sea, the near-term risk of tensions between Washington and Beijing escalating over both issues is high," said Amanda Hsiao, senior China analyst at the International Crisis Group.

  • "The Xi-Biden meeting provides an important opportunity for the two leaders to convey to each other that neither seeks to overturn the status quo" and that neither side seeks military conflict, said Hsiao.

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