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Biden and Xi are meeting in San Francisco, seeking better US-China relations despite tough issues

Biden and Xi are meeting in San Francisco, seeking better US-China relations despite tough issues


SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Presidents Joe Biden and Xi Jinping head into their big meeting at a country estate on Wednesday hoping to stabilize U.S.-China relations after a period of tumult, but the U.S. president also is prepared to confront his counterpart on difficult issues such as trade, Beijing’s burgeoning relationship with Iran and human rights concerns.

The two leaders, who will meet on the sidelines of a summit of Asian-Pacific leaders, last spoke a year ago. Since then, already fraught ties between the two nations have been further strained by the U.S. downing of a Chinese spy balloon that had traversed the continental U.S. and over differences on the self-ruled island of Taiwan, China’s hacking of a Biden official’s emails and other incidents.

The outcome of the talks between two leaders who have known each other for decades could have far-reaching implications for an anxious world that is grappling with global economic cross currents from the pandemic, wars in the Middle East and Europe, upcoming elections in Taiwan and more.

READ MORE : Biden and Xi will meet Wednesday for talks on trade, Taiwan and fraught US-China relations

The two presidents are in California for the annual Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum, but they will be meeting one-on-one at Filoli Estate, a country house and museum about 25 miles (40 kilometers) south of San Francisco, according to three senior administration officials. The officials requested anonymity to discuss the location, which had not yet been confirmed by the White House or the Chinese government due to tight security.

Both men are seeking to show the world that while the U.S. and China are economic competitors, they are not locked in a winner-take-all faceoff.

Biden is expected to let Xi know that he would like China to use its sway over Iran to make clear that Tehran or its proxies should not take action that could lead to expansion of the Israel-Hamas war. The Biden administration also sees the Chinese, a big buyer of Iranian oil, as having considerable leverage with Iran, which is a major backer of Hamas.

Biden on Tuesday billed the meeting as a chance to get Washington and Beijing back “on a normal course corresponding” once again.

But White House National Council spokesman John Kirby said Biden was “not going to be afraid to confront where confrontation is needed on issues where we don’t see eye to eye.”

“We’re also not going to be afraid, nor should we be afraid, as a confident nation, to engage in diplomacy on ways which we can cooperate with China — on climate change, for instance, and clean energy technology,” Kirby said.

Biden will be focused on managing the countries’ increasingly fierce economic competition and keeping open lines of communication to prevent misunderstandings that could lead to direct conflict between the two powers.

While he’s expected to defend U.S. expansion of export controls on semiconductor chips, he also will assure Xi that the U.S. is not trying to wage economic war with Beijing amid continuing signs that China’s economy is struggling to recover from the disruptions of the pandemic.

Xi, meanwhile, is looking for assurances from Biden that the U.S. will not support Taiwan independence, start a new cold war or suppress China’s economic growth. He’s also keen to show the U.S. that China is still a good place to invest.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said Tuesday that during a recent visit to Beijing, he and other lawmakers made the case directly to Xi that he could bolster China’s reputation in the U.S. and around the globe by taking action to stop the flow of chemicals used to produce fentanyl.

“It is reported he’s very worried about the negative opinion of China in the United States,” Schumer said. “And I told him nothing could help raise China’s image a little bit in the United States more than stopping the flow of fentanyl.”

Associated Press journalist Sagar Meghani in Washington contributed to this report.

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