China, U.S. leaders meet in San Francisco

President Xi on U.S. relations: One country's success is an opportunity for the other

BEIJING — U.S. President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping met Wednesday outside of San Francisco in their first face-to-face encounter in a year.

The summit, on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation conference, followed efforts between the U.S. and China to increase high-level communication amid continued tensions.

“We have to ensure that competition does not veer into conflict,” Biden said at the start of the summit. “Critical global challenges we face, from climate change to counternarcotics to artificial intelligence, demand our joint efforts.”

Biden and Xi were widely expected to discuss issues such as curbing fentanyl flows into the U.S., safe use of artificial intelligence, and U.S. restrictions on Chinese access to high-end tech.

“For two large countries like China and the United States, turning their back on each other is not an option,” Xi said in his opening remarks. “Planet Earth is big enough for the two countries to succeed.”

U.S. President Joe Biden meets with Chinese President Xi Jinping at Filoli estate on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit, in Woodside, California, U.S., November 15, 2023. 

Kevin Lamarque | Reuters

Signals of goodwill between the countries have picked up in recent days.

In the hours before the planned summit, the U.S. and China reaffirmed their commitment to cooperate on climate issues.

More direct flights between the U.S. and China are resuming from a low base.

Last month, Chinese commodity importers signed the first agreements since 2017 to buy U.S. agricultural products in bulk, according to a news release from the American embassy in Beijing.

China’s Ministry of Commerce last week announced it was gathering information in an effort to address unequal treatment of foreign businesses in China compared with treatment of domestic firms — which has been a longstanding business complaint.

The Chinese government may also use the summit as an opportunity to announce a commitment to resuming purchases of Boeing‘s 737 Max aircraft, Bloomberg News reported, citing sources.

Boeing declined to comment.

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Xi arrived in the U.S. on Tuesday local time. It is his first trip to the United States since 2017, when he visited then-President Donald Trump at his Mar-a-Lago club in Florida.

The last time that Xi met Biden in person was in the Indonesian island resort of Bali in November 2022. That was Biden’s first meeting with the Chinese leader as American president.

Biden is running for reelection next year.

Xi cemented his power in March by formally gaining an unprecedented third term as president.

— CNBC’s Rebecca Picciotto contributed reporting

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