Joe Biden to urge Xi Jinping on reopening military communications at San Francisco summit

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When the two presidents hold a summit ahead of next week’s Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum, Joe Biden will stress to Xi Jinping the need to renew communications between the US and Chinese militaries.

The White House said Friday that Biden and Xi will meet in the San Francisco Bay Area on Wednesday before attending Apec. The two sides have been trying to renew efforts to stabilize ties amid rising tensions over issues including Chinese military activity near Taiwan and US efforts to prevent China from protecting advanced US technology.

The summit will be their second in-person meeting, a year after they met at the G20 in Bali, Indonesia. Xi has not been to the US since meeting then-President Donald Trump in Florida in April 2017. After meeting Biden, Xi is expected to attend a dinner with US officials.

U.S. officials said the leaders will discuss a range of issues, including the possibility of reopening military communications channels that China closed after then-U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited Taiwan last year.

Washington has been vocal about Chinese fighter jets flying too close to US spy planes and surveillance planes over the South China Sea by US allies, including Canada.

„The president is committed to taking the necessary steps to restore what we believe are core military-to-military relations between the United States and China,” a US official said.

The official said Biden would raise concerns with Xi about „dangerous” and „provocative” Chinese military actions around Taiwan, which have escalated since the US president took office nearly three years ago.

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„The president has consistently made those points, and he will do so again next week in San Francisco,” the official said.

Officials said Biden will also discuss the conflict in Ukraine with Xi. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said on Friday she told her counterpart He Lifeng during a two-day meeting in San Francisco that the United States wants Beijing to crack down on private Chinese companies selling equipment to Russia to facilitate Moscow’s war with Kiev.

„I emphasized . . . that it is very important to us that companies do not supply goods to Russia’s defense industrial sector, and we are prepared to impose sanctions,” Yellen said. “We want to see China disintegrate [on the companies]Especially when we provide information.”

Officials stressed that the Biden-Xi summit, which follows months of high-level engagements, does not mark a shift in US policy toward China, but a recognition that the powers need effective lines of communication.

„Intensive competition requires and demands intensive diplomacy to manage tensions and prevent competitive confrontation,” the US official said. „Diplomacy is how we clear up misunderstandings, signal, communicate, avoid surprises, and explain our competitive actions.”

Xie Feng, China’s ambassador to the US, said the two presidents will have „in-depth communications on key issues of strategic, overarching and fundamental importance in shaping Sino-US relations and world peace and development”.

US-China relations are at their worst since the countries normalized diplomatic ties in 1979. Washington is concerned about issues including Chinese exports of fentanyl, the synthetic opioid that is now the leading killer of young Americans.

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Beijing, meanwhile, has criticized U.S. efforts to block its military modernization through export restrictions designed to slow its progress in developing advanced chips for applications such as artificial intelligence and quantum computing.

When the two leaders met in Bali last November, they agreed on the need to stabilize relations to reduce the chances of increased rivalry and military conflict between the rivals.

But efforts to establish a „base” under the relationship were derailed when a suspected Chinese spy balloon flew over the United States in February.

Yellen said the US and China have improved communication in recent months. He said he had extensive discussions with China’s vice premier about the Chinese economy and hoped Beijing would „compulsorily address” domestic economic issues, including the crisis in its property market.

The Treasury secretary said Chinese officials were keen to avoid further inflating the country’s property market or adding more debt to local governments’ balance sheets. „They don’t want to put measures in place at the expense of giving some short-term boost to the economy but exacerbating long-term problems,” Yellen said.

Noting China’s dwindling holdings of U.S. Treasuries, he said Chinese officials were keen to prevent further depreciation of their currency and „wouldn’t be surprised if they reduced their Treasury holdings to some extent to support their currency.”

Yellen said the two sides had not discussed Beijing’s delay to US chip group Broadcom’s $69bn acquisition of VMware.

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