The upcoming meeting between US President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) conference in San Francisco is set to be a focal point in international diplomacy. This meeting, the first since their last encounter in Indonesia, comes amidst a backdrop of global tensions and pressing bilateral issues.
Agenda Dominated by Security and Trade
The Biden-Xi meeting is expected to be heavily influenced by current geopolitical events, including the Israeli war on Gaza and the ongoing conflict between Ukraine and Russia. The two superpowers have diverged significantly in their approaches to these issues, with China notably speaking out against the civilian toll in Gaza and refraining from aligning with the US against Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Under the shadow of strained relations that worsened during former US President Donald Trump's tenure, primarily due to a tariff war over trade deficits, Biden has largely continued Trump's policy. This includes imposing restrictions on Chinese tech companies, a move that could have far-reaching effects on global supply chains, as the US and China jointly account for approximately 40% of global production.
Key Topics and Potential Outcomes
Several critical issues are poised to dominate the discussions. These include the fentanyl crisis, semiconductor trade, surveillance concerns, and China's military expansion in the South China Sea.
The meeting is particularly significant as it follows the controversial "surveillance" balloon incident in February, which heightened suspicions in the US and among its Western allies about Chinese technological espionage.
Experts anticipate that while major breakthroughs on these tough issues are unlikely, the meeting could set the tone for future US-China relations. Biden, facing an election year, is expected to approach the talks with caution, balancing the need to ease tensions with the imperative to maintain a firm stance on key issues.
The meeting's location in San Francisco, rather than a more formal setting like the White House, suggests that economic concerns are high on Xi's agenda. Amidst efforts to revive the Chinese economy after years of stalled growth, the APEC forum presents an opportunity for China to explore trade and investment prospects with 21 Asian countries.
Another significant topic is Taiwan, with the US deepening its ties to the island, much to China's chagrin. Xi is likely to seek assurances from Biden regarding the US stance on Taiwan, especially following high-profile visits to the island by US officials, which have heightened tensions between the two nations.
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