President Biden told reporters that he and Chinese President Xi Jinping had made “important progress” during a four-hour meeting in Northern California on Wednesday, their first face-to-face encounter in a year.
, when he visited then-President Trump in Florida. During the Biden administration, China and the United States have maintained intense economic competition, with the added factor of geopolitical tension over the issues of Taiwan’s sovereignty and the war in Ukraine, . When, earlier this year, Chinese spy balloons floated over the continental United States, some saw the makings of a frightening new conflict.
Wednesday’s summit sought to defray those tensions. “My responsibility is to make this rational and manageable so it doesn’t result in conflict,” Biden said.
Below, the top takeaways from the Xi-Biden meeting and the Biden press conference that followed.
China vows to do more on fentanyl
“A lot of people are dying,” Biden said at the opening of Wednesday evening’s press conference, referencing the roughly 70,000 Americans who die each year from fentanyl overdoses. Ingredients of the powerful opioid, , are often shipped from China to Mexico, and from there into the U.S.
It is not clear just what China would do to stem the flow, but Biden and his advisers said Xi acknowledged the problem — .
“We worked intensively with every element of the Chinese system on a plan that has the Chinese using a number of procedures to go directly after specific companies that make precursors for fentanyl,” a senior administration official told reporters ahead of the president’s press conference. “They’re taking a number of steps that are designed to dramatically curtail those supplies.”
Military communication restored
After then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi last year, China suspended military-to-military communication with the United States, which had been conducted as part of what is known as the Military Maritime Consultative Agreement. Those talks were meant to prevent escalation stemming from incidents like the recent
“That’s how accidents happen,” Biden said Wednesday, as he announced that military-to-military talks between Pentagon chief Lloyd Austin and a yet-unnamed Chinese counterpart will resume.
Biden also said that on the question of Taiwan — the most fraught issue facing the two superpowers — his administration would adhere to the One China policy, which acknowledges, , that Taiwan is part of China.
“That’s not gonna change. That’s about the extent to which we discussed it,” Biden said in what appeared to be a concession to Xi that could help further ease tensions.
The AI question
Both the United States and China tools that could revolutionize every aspect of society, but which .
Biden promised that the U.S. would convene experts who would discuss “risk and safety issues associated with artificial intelligence,” though it is not clear just how open each country would be with the other given and the .
“It’s basically early-stages mechanisms,” the senior administration official told reporters on Wednesday. “What we underscored that this was not yet ready for a declaration or some sort of framing by the two leaders. That this is a process that’s going to require more serious interactions.”