Hopes for talks between US President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping next month may be in jeopardy unless Washington can fulfill an agreement reached between the two leaders last year, according to the Chinese Foreign Ministry. The proposed Biden-Xi summit is expected to take place on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation leaders meeting in San Francisco on November 14. While the White House has stated that the talks are expected to happen, the Chinese government has not yet confirmed President Xi’s commitment to meeting with President Biden.
The Chinese Foreign Ministry released a statement on Sunday, emphasizing that the road to a San Francisco summit will not be smooth sailing and the two governments cannot rely on autopilot to make it happen. The statement also mentioned the need for the two sides to effectively return to the consensus reached in Bali when Xi and Biden met last November in Indonesia.
The statement from the Chinese Foreign Ministry followed Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi’s visit to Washington, where he had meetings with President Biden, Secretary of State Antony Blinken, and National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan. Wang emphasized the importance of stabilizing Sino-US relations but also stressed the need to put into practice past commitments, including removing interference, overcoming obstacles, enhancing consensus, and achieving outcomes.
Since President Biden took office, relations between the US and China have deteriorated due to trade disputes, alleged US meddling in the Taiwan Strait, and disagreements over the Russia-Ukraine crisis. President Biden’s derogatory remarks about the Chinese government, referring to President Xi as a dictator, and his characterization of China being run by bad folks have further strained the relationship.
Tensions escalated earlier this year when President Biden ordered the shooting down of an alleged Chinese spy balloon. Chinese officials claimed the balloon was a civilian craft blown off course, and the Pentagon later acknowledged that it did not gather intelligence as it crossed the US.
In order to eliminate interference between the two countries, Wang emphasized the importance of abiding by past communiques, including US respect for China’s sovereignty over Taiwan. He called for following President Xi’s proposed principles of mutual respect, peaceful coexistence, and win-win cooperation to stabilize relations.
During the meetings between National Security Advisor Sullivan and Foreign Minister Wang, candid discussions took place on key issues such as the Israel-Hamas war, the Russia-Ukraine conflict, and the Taiwan Strait. Sullivan raised concerns over China’s actions in the South China Sea and stressed the importance of peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait.
It remains to be seen whether the proposed Biden-Xi summit will indeed take place as planned. Both countries will need to navigate the challenges and work towards fulfilling their past commitments in order to make the summit a reality and potentially improve the strained relations between the US and China.