BIDEN: Biden and Xi are set to meet at the APEC summit next week

Washington: President Jo Biden Meets the Chinese leader Xi Jinping On Wednesday, there will be no such thing as a small detail.
How do you greet? If they eat? Where are they sitting? Will there be flowers? Bottled water or a glass? „Very serious,” senior executives say of navigating the delicate protocol.
Any meeting involving the president and a foreign leader involves managing tricky logistics, politics and cultures, and every event or speech could shake up the world order. But few countries are more attuned to etiquette and Washington’s often conflicting interests than the Chinese. And it would make sense for Beijing to appear frivolous.
„There can be very detailed planning of who enters a room, where pictures are taken and everything,” said Bonnie Lin, a senior fellow on Asian security and director of the China Power Project at the Strategic Center. and international studies.
Both Biden and Xi will meet next week when they attend Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Summit San Francisco. So far, even basic information has been closely guarded. China’s government statements on Friday did not specify the date or location. Citing security concerns, the White House would only say the meeting would take place in the „Gulf Region.”
That can add to the pressure as both parties haggle over everything from the time and timing of the meeting to who gets to enter the room first. Will they use tables or easy chairs? What about security presence and interpreter access?
And then there’s something more obviously substantial: will there be a joint report after the meeting and how much of the session will be public view?
Senior administration officials say the plan is to allocate enough time for in-depth discussions on issues that will be divided into different sessions. It recalls Biden’s nearly three-hour meeting with Xi before the start of the G-20 summit in Bali last year.
Officials noted that this was Xi’s first visit to the United States in six years, and his first visit to San Francisco after serving as secretary of the provincial Communist Party.
Victor Cha, former director of Asian affairs at the White House National Security Council, said organizing such meetings at APEC is easier than a formal venue. But he said holding talks without the summit would still be „a logistical nightmare”.
“China, in general, if they come to America, they want everything. They love all the pomp and circumstance. They want the highest honor that can be given to them,” Cha said. „It’s not politically feasible. So having APEC in San Francisco solves that problem, it’s not the official White House hosting the meeting.
Even informal organizations can bring high stakes.
When President Richard Nixon visited China in 1972, looking to ease decades of hostility, he brought a new pair of rubber-soled shoes to climb the Great Wall.
President Barack Obama and Xi don’t wear ties during a 2013 meeting at Sunnylands, a modernist mansion in Rancho Mirage, near Palm Springs, California. It was reported at the time that Obama spent the night there while the Chinese delegation returned to a nearby hotel.
Four years later, President Donald Trump and G wore dark suits for dinner at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida. The dish featured what Trump called „the most beautiful chocolate cake.”
Bonnie Glaser, executive director of the German Marshall Fund’s Indo-Pacific program, said that for the upcoming meeting, Xi’s team may push the location away from the APEC floor and hold talks longer than in Bali.
„The Chinese want a separate summit,” he said.
The Chinese are giving importance to the location, this time perhaps more like Sunnylands than Anchorage, Alaska, where top US and Chinese officials held tense 2021 talks. Chinese state media may set the weather as a barometer for bilateral relations. Early forecasts call for highs in the mid-60s for San Francisco.
On-site flowers can also be important, as certain choices symbolize harmony in Chinese culture. The plum blossom is a flower well known in China for persevering in the midst of hardship, while lotuses represent peace in Chinese. Chrysanthemums, by contrast, are associated with death.
Xi can expect to welcome Biden upon his arrival. Xi’s team may also want leaders to take photos together without staff to convey a personal relationship.
John L. at the Brookings Institution. Ryan Haas, director of the Thornton China Center, said Chinese officials want to project to their domestic audience that Mr. Biden treats them with dignity and respect. „There needs to be an image of two leaders,” he suggested, communicating on a personal basis beyond the usual handshake in front of a bank of flags in a hotel conference room.
It could be as simple as taking a short walk together, Haas said. The Chinese also tend to emphasize food and can stress over food.
During Nixon’s 1971 visit, a military honor guard greeted him at the airport, but the most-watched refreshments from both sides came only after a shark fin banquet meal was served. China offered to host a Texas-style barbecue for President George HW Bush in 1989, but blocked an invitation from the country’s most famous dissident, Fang Lishi.
The APEC organization blocks formal dinners. But lunch is possible. That’s despite Xi planning his trips to the minute and often packing so much that he doesn’t have time to eat, according to a 2017 documentary China released on its diplomatic policies.
There are always security concerns for both sides. In a memoir of his 2009 trip to China, Obama noted that his team was „instructed to leave any non-government electronic devices on the plane” and that „our communications were monitored” and that hotel rooms had hidden cameras.
First Lady Hillary Clinton’s 1995 visit to Beijing turned heads for a different reason when she declared, „Human rights are women’s rights, and women’s rights are human rights.” Stopping in Thailand, he visited a refugee camp for people fleeing the Chinese-backed Myanmar government.
But the ethics surrounding US-China leader interactions need not always focus on espionage threats or human rights issues.
When Obama’s daughter Sasha was 9 years old in Mandarin school, she practiced a few phrases at a 2011 reception for Chinese President Hu Jintao at the White House. When she and her sister Malia visited China three years later on a goodwill tour with their mother Michelle, the Chinese press dubbed the then first lady “Mrs. Diplomacy.”
The trip featured a toboggan ride from the press after a visit to the Great Wall, and a game of table tennis that Michelle Obama joked that her husband played and „thinks he’s better than he really is.” Yet what emerged was difficult for some. The headline in The New York Times read: „Even with Ping-Pong, a Formal Meeting in China.”

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