President Joe Biden's upcoming meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping marks a critical juncture in U.S.-China relations, amidst global geopolitical tensions and ongoing conflicts. Scheduled for next Wednesday in the San Francisco Bay Area, this summit is a significant attempt to stabilize the increasingly strained relationship between the world's two largest powers.
The meeting, although not expected to drastically thaw the frosty bilateral ties, is seen as a positive step toward managing competitive relations more effectively. The focus is on developing a framework to address misunderstandings and avoid surprises, rather than expecting a comprehensive resolution of all contentious issues.
High on the agenda are efforts to restore military-to-military communication, which has been a primary goal for Biden. The leaders are also expected to discuss global conflicts, including those in Israel and Ukraine, potential cooperation areas like climate change, and disagreements over human rights and military activities in the South China Sea and Taiwan.
The backdrop of the summit includes heightened sensitivities around Taiwan, especially with its upcoming elections in January. Additionally, recent U.S. restrictions on advanced technology exports to China and the call for China to play a more constructive role in global conflicts add layers of complexity to the talks.
Despite the personal rapport between Biden and Xi from their time as vice presidents, their tenure has seen a deterioration in relations to a level not seen in decades. Issues like Taiwan's status and U.S. national security concerns have been major sticking points.
Recent developments, however, provide a glimmer of hope for improved communication. High-level meetings between U.S. and Chinese officials, including visits by Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen to Beijing, and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi's meeting with U.S. officials in Washington, indicate a potential thaw in relations.
The summit, only the second face-to-face meeting between Biden and Xi in three years, follows their interaction at the G20 summit in Bali a year ago, which aimed to establish a baseline for the relationship amid economic and military tensions.
As the summit approaches, both countries seem cautiously optimistic about reopening military communication channels and managing their relationship more effectively, albeit without expectations of a significant reset. This meeting could be a crucial step in stabilizing U.S.-China relations and addressing global challenges collaboratively.