San Francisco, USA, 17 Nov 2023
Chinese President Xi Jinping and U.S. President Joe Biden on Wednesday held a positive, comprehensive and constructive summit, charting the course for improving and developing bilateral ties.
At the invitation of U.S. President Joe Biden, Chinese President Xi Jinping has arrived in San Francisco on Tuesday for a China-U.S. summit and the 30th Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Economic Leaders’ Meeting.
The visit to San Francisco marks Xi’s return to the United States after six-plus years and also signifies another face-to-face meeting between the two heads of state following last year’s handshake in Bali, Indonesia.
Upon arrival at Filoli Estate, South of San Francisco, Xi was warmly received by Biden. During their four-hour-long meeting, the two heads of state had a candid and in-depth exchange of views on strategic and overarching issues critical to the direction of China-U.S. relations and on major issues affecting world peace and development.
This is an important summit to increase trust and dispel doubts, manage differences and expand cooperation between China and the United States, and it is also an important meeting to inject certainty into and enhance stability of a volatile and changing world, said Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi while briefing the media after the meeting.
Wang, also a member of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China Central Committee, described the meeting as strategic, historic, and one that provides stewardship.
Candid, In-depth Exchange of Views
The historic summit came at a critical juncture when the international community presses for a stable China-U.S. relationship. Face to face, the two heads of state put forward guiding principles on the most prominent issues between the two sides, such as developing a correct understanding of each other, properly managing differences, and strengthening dialogue and cooperation.
They further discussed the right way for both countries to get along with each other, clarified their shared responsibilities as major countries, and mapped out the direction and blueprint for the sound, stable and sustainable development of China-U.S. relations.
Calling the Xi-Biden summit “the most important diplomatic event of the year,” Chairman of the Kuhn Foundation Robert Lawrence Kuhn said the two leaders established a floor under bilateral relations, which will be a huge contribution to world peace and prosperity. “Then, both countries can carefully build back up by finding specific areas of agreement and mutual benefit.”
The Chinese president pointed out that mutual respect, peaceful coexistence and win-win cooperation are the lessons learned from 50 years of China-U.S. relations and the conflicts between major countries in history, which should be the direction of joint efforts between the two countries.
Noting that the world today is undergoing profound changes unseen in a century, Xi said there are two options for China and the United States — one is to enhance solidarity and cooperation, join hands to meet global challenges and promote global security and prosperity; and the other is to cling to the zero-sum mentality, provoke rivalry and confrontation, and drive the world toward turmoil and division.
The two choices point to two different directions that will decide the future of humanity and Planet Earth, he said, adding that the China-U.S. relationship, which is the world’s most important bilateral relationship, should be perceived and envisioned in this broad context.
Noting that U.S.-China relationship is the most important bilateral relationship in the world, Biden said at the summit that a U.S.-China conflict is not inevitable, adding a stable and developing China serves the interests of the United States and the world, and China’s economic growth is beneficial to both the United States and the world.
The Xi-Biden summit “can provide a balance for security and economy in an increasingly uncertain and complex world,” said Lucio Blanco Pitlo, a research fellow with the Philippine think tank Asia-Pacific Pathways to Progress Foundation.
President Xi’s visit to San Francisco and his meeting with Biden are “a courageous voyage,” said Keith Bennett, an international relations consultant based in London. “It is a journey of a peacemaker and of a responsible leader and statesman with a sense of great responsibility to his people, the times, history and humanity as a whole.”
Five Pillars For Bilateral Ties
In San Francisco, China and the United States should assume a new vision and build together five pillars for China-U.S. relations, Xi noted, pointing out the two countries should jointly develop a right perception.
China is consistently committed to having a stable, healthy and sustainable relationship with the United States, and China has interests that must be safeguarded, principles that must be upheld, and red lines that must not be crossed, Xi said.
China and the United States should manage disagreements effectively, he noted. Disagreements should not be a chasm that keeps the two countries apart, he stressed, adding that instead, the two sides should look for ways to build bridges to help them walk toward each other.
China and the United States should jointly advance mutually beneficial cooperation, Xi said. The two countries have broad common interests in a wide range of areas, including traditional areas such as the economy, trade and agriculture, as well as emerging areas such as climate change and artificial intelligence (AI), he added.
Xi also called on China and the United States to jointly shoulder responsibilities as major countries, adding that the two countries should provide more public goods for the world, keep their initiatives open to each other, or coordinate and connect them for synergy, to benefit the world.
Meanwhile, the Chinese president urged China and the United States to jointly promote people-to-people exchanges, and reduce negative factors that hinder such exchanges, so as to consolidate the foundation for the healthy development of China-U.S. relations.
These pillars are “a solid foundation” for the two countries to build a great future for all humanity, said Tom Watkins, a former advisor to the Michigan-China Innovation Center. “Collectively we have the ability to reset the clock for peace and prosperity for all.”
During the summit, Xi also elaborated on China’s principled position on the Taiwan question, and further pointed out that U.S. actions against China regarding export control, investment screening and unilateral sanctions seriously undermine China’s legitimate interests.
Noting that China’s development is driven by innovation, he held that stifling China’s technological progress is nothing but a move to contain China’s high-quality development and deprive the Chinese people of their right to development.
Series Of Agreements
The two presidents agreed to promote and strengthen bilateral dialogue and cooperation in such areas as China-U.S. government talks on AI and the establishment of a working group on counter-narcotics cooperation.
They agreed to resume, on the basis of equality and respect, high-level communication between the two militaries, the China-U.S. Defense Policy Coordination Talks, and the China-U.S. Military Maritime Consultative Agreement meetings, and to conduct telephone conversations between theater commanders.
They also agreed to work toward a significant further increase in scheduled passenger flights early next year, and expand various bilateral exchanges in education, overseas students, youth, culture, sports and between the business communities.
The two leaders underscored the importance of working together to accelerate efforts to tackle the climate crisis in this critical decade, and welcomed recent positive discussions between their respective special envoys for climate.
“Overall, by helping to stabilize relations, the two leaders gave their overt blessing to re-engagement,” said Denis Simon, a distinguished fellow at the Institute for China-America Studies, adding that it is important for the United States and other Western nations to view China’s development as a positive force to enhance global growth.
“Hopefully, this can bring an end to talks about decoupling and delinking. And hopefully, the two nations can further establish new levels of trust and confidence that both countries can gain from improved relations and expanded contacts, especially through people-to-people diplomacy,” he added.
After the summit, Xi stressed the role of people in China-U.S. relations at a welcome dinner by friendly organizations in the United States.
“The foundation of China-U.S. relations was laid by our peoples,” Xi said, stressing that “the door of China-U.S. relations was opened by our peoples,” “the stories of China-U.S. relations are written by our peoples” and “the future of China-U.S. relations will be created by our peoples.”
On concluding of meeting between both the world leaders, addressing a press conference, Biden ‘Welcomed the positive steps we’ve taken today, “In the months ahead, we’re going to continue to preserve and pursue high-level diplomacy with the PRC in both directions to keep the lines of communication open, including between President Xi and me.”
San Francisco is the first U.S. city that was directly reached by a Chinese commercial flight. On Jan. 7, 1981, a Boeing 747SP large passenger aircraft flew over the Pacific Ocean, becoming the first flight between China and the United States linking Beijing, Shanghai, San Francisco, and New York.
Over the past 42 years, busy flights have witnessed increasingly close connections between China and the United States.
Earlier this month, Air China and United Airlines successively resumed direct flights between Beijing and San Francisco, signaling improved relations between the two sides.
Addressing at dinner hosted by friendly organizations, President Xi said that ‘ I am convinced that once opened, the door of China-U.S. relations cannot be shut again. Once started, the cause of China-U.S. friendship cannot be derailed halfway. The tree of our peoples’ friendship has grown tall and strong; and it can surely withstand the assault of any wind or storm.
He said that ‘Our paths are different, but both are the choice by our peoples, and both lead to the realization of the common values of humanity. They should be both respected’.