In a significant diplomatic move, President Joseph R. Biden, Jr. engaged in a Summit with President Xi Jinping of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) on November 15, 2023, in Woodside, California. This meeting marked a pivotal moment in U.S.-China relations, addressing both cooperation and areas of divergence.
Bilateral Competition and Strategic Investments
President Biden underscored the competitive nature of U.S.-China relations, emphasizing the ongoing investment in American strengths and alignment with global allies. The commitment to standing up for U.S. interests, values, and alliances was highlighted, with a clear message to manage competition responsibly to avert conflict or a new Cold War.
Key Achievements: Combating Illicit Drug Activities
The leaders made substantial progress in combating global illicit drug manufacturing and trafficking, specifically addressing synthetic drugs like fentanyl. A new working group was established for ongoing communication and law enforcement coordination, reinforcing the U.S. commitment to countering the evolving threat of illicit synthetic drugs.
Strengthening Military-to-Military Communication
Welcoming the resumption of high-level military-to-military communication, including Defense Policy Coordination Talks and Military Maritime Consultative Agreement meetings, both leaders demonstrated a commitment to enhancing understanding and cooperation in defense matters.
Addressing Advanced AI Systems
Recognizing the risks associated with advanced AI systems, the leaders affirmed the need for U.S.-China government talks to improve AI safety. This reflects a shared responsibility to navigate the challenges posed by evolving technologies.
Regional and Global Challenges
President Biden emphasized the U.S. support for a free and open Indo-Pacific, reaffirming commitments to allies and advocating for peace and stability in the South China Sea and East China Sea. The commitment to defending Ukraine against Russian aggression and supporting Israel's right to self-defense was reiterated, emphasizing the importance of preventing escalation in global conflicts.
Human Rights and Trade Concerns
President Biden raised concerns about human rights abuses in Xinjiang, Tibet, and Hong Kong, underlining the universality of human rights. On Taiwan, the one China policy was reaffirmed, with a call for peaceful resolution and restraint in military activities. Trade issues, including unfair trade policies and non-market economic practices, were highlighted as ongoing concerns.
Paving the Way for Future Collaboration
The leaders emphasized the importance of people-to-people ties, committing to increasing scheduled passenger flights and encouraging educational, cultural, and business exchanges. Additionally, they pledged to work together to tackle the climate crisis, supporting concrete actions to reduce emissions and addressing transnational challenges.
Building on Previous Discussions
Building on the principles discussed in the November 2022 meeting in Bali, the leaders acknowledged ongoing efforts to explore best practices for the U.S.-China relationship. Responsible management of competitive aspects, conflict prevention, and open communication were stressed, highlighting the commitment to peaceful coexistence.
Future Diplomacy and Interactions
Both leaders agreed that their teams would follow up on the San Francisco discussions with continued high-level diplomacy and interactions. This includes visits in both directions and ongoing working-level consultations across key areas such as commerce, economics, finance, Asia-Pacific relations, arms control, nonproliferation, maritime issues, export control enforcement, policy planning, agriculture, and disability matters.
In conclusion, the Summit between President Biden and President Xi Jinping was a significant step in shaping U.S.-China relations, addressing a spectrum of issues and setting the stage for future collaboration while navigating areas of competition responsibly.