Biden meets with China's President Xi

By Kyle Feldscher, Maureen Chowdhury, Kaanita Iyer and Tori B. Powell, CNN

Updated 0300 GMT (1100 HKT) November 16, 2023
9 Posts
Sort byDropdown arrow
2:51 p.m. ET, November 15, 2023

Biden tells Xi competition cannot turn into conflict

From CNN's Kevin Liptak

President Joe Biden welcomes Chinese President Xi Jinping at Filoli estate on the sidelines of the APEC summit, in Woodside, California, on Wednesday.
President Joe Biden welcomes Chinese President Xi Jinping at Filoli estate on the sidelines of the APEC summit, in Woodside, California, on Wednesday. Kevin Lamarque/Reuters

US President Joe Biden said it is essential he and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping have a frank understanding of each other as they begin a high-stakes summit in California.

I think it's paramount that you and I understand each other clearly leader to leader, with no misconceptions or miscommunication," Biden told Xi as the summit got underway.

Biden said competition between US and China could not tilt toward conflict and added that his past meetings with Xi had been "candid, straightforward and useful."

"As always, there is no substitute to face to face discussions. I've always found our discussions straightforward and frank," Biden said.

Biden said the leaders had a responsibility to their populations to work together, including on issues of climate change, countering narcotics trafficking and approaching artificial intelligence.

2:24 p.m. ET, November 15, 2023

Biden welcomes Xi for summit talks in California

From CNN's Kevin Liptak

US President Joe Biden shakes hands with President Xi Jinping of China on Wednesday, November 15, 2023.
US President Joe Biden shakes hands with President Xi Jinping of China on Wednesday, November 15, 2023. Pool

President Joe Biden has welcomed his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping for their summit in California.

The two men greeted each other warmly outside a Georgian revival-style mansion south of San Francisco where the talks will occur.

The optics of the summit were carefully negotiated between the two sides and the formal welcome to the estate was highly choreographed.

As host of the meeting, Biden walked out of the building first to welcome Xi. A red carpet had been rolled out, with Marine guards and flags from both countries.

Xi's black sedan pulled up and stopped at the end of the carpet. The Chinese leader emerged with a smile and the two men shook hands, each grasping the others' wrists.

The leaders walked inside and didn't answer any questions.

2:44 p.m. ET, November 15, 2023

Biden meeting Xi at historic estate south of San Francisco

From CNN's Kevin Liptak

President Joe Biden is meeting his Chinese counterpart Wednesday at a historic estate south of San Francisco, a person familiar with the planning says, after months of careful planning by officials on both sides.

The estate, built in 1917, features a Georgian mansion and acres of gardens within the coastal range south of the city.

The location wasn't formally announced until the two leaders arrived for their summit talks, and it wasn't disclosed by the White House ahead of time.

White House officials scouted a number of venues, sources said, taking into account security considerations and how much the space could accommodate. But there were more superficial factors at play, too – like the look and feel of the venue, one source said.

3:04 p.m. ET, November 15, 2023

GOP presidential candidate Ramaswamy urges Biden to take hardline stance with Xi

From CNN's Aaron Pellish

Republican presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy laid out what he said were a list of "basic priorities" for President Joe Biden ahead of his meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping on Wednesday. 

He urged Biden to take a hardline stance with the Chinese leader in a post on X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter.

Ramaswamy included a "hard commitment" from China to not invade Taiwan and an announcement of "financial accountability over Covid" as among his list of desired outcomes for the meeting.

"We’re not going to play ball unless China plays by the same rules - period," he wrote. 

Biden’s high-stakes meeting with Xi is taking place at a historic estate south of San Francisco, California.

1:19 p.m. ET, November 15, 2023

Analysis: Here's Xi’s agenda as the Chinese leader heads to California

From CNN's Simone McCarthy

Chinese President Xi Jinping arrives at San Francisco International Airport ahead of the APEC summit on November 14, in San Francisco, California.
Chinese President Xi Jinping arrives at San Francisco International Airport ahead of the APEC summit on November 14, in San Francisco, California. Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Xi Jinping is making his first visit to the US in six years this week for a highly anticipated summit with US President Joe Biden — where the Chinese leader will likely try to bolster his country’s troubled economy and push back on perceived US efforts to suppress it.

That Xi is even touching down in California for the four-day visit, which includes his attendance at the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation international forum, is remarkable in itself.

The leaders of the world’s top two economies have not spoken since they last met on the sidelines of another international gathering in Bali, Indonesia, in November 2022.

To arrange this meeting, their governments have had to navigate a number of contentious issues: from the handling of an allegedly rogue Chinese surveillance balloon to Beijing’s targeting of international businesses, and tit-for-tat restrictions over high tech.

Expectations for major breakthroughs at this week’s meeting are low.

Xi is arriving in California as he struggles to revive a faltering Chinese economy yet to fully rebound after his strict pandemic controls were relaxed, with the property market in crisis and record youth unemployment.

The economic woes, combined with the unexplained removal of two hand-picked officials at the top of his government, have tarnished the image that Xi projected the last time he met Biden, when he’d just consolidated power and started a norm-shattering third term leading China.

Biden, meanwhile, finds himself strapped with international challenges from the war in Ukraine to the latest conflict in Gaza. Another global flashpoint involving China is the last thing he would want to see, especially as he vies for re-election next year.

“At a time that they both face domestic challenges and foreign policy challenges, there’s less incentive for them to try to go after each other and a bit more incentive for them to stabilize their relationship,” said Yun Sun, director of the China Program at the Stimson Center think tank in Washington.

Read more.

1:16 p.m. ET, November 15, 2023

Here's what Joe Biden wants to achieve in his meeting with Xi Jinping

From CNN's Kevin Liptak and MJ Lee

From left, President Xi Jinping and President Joe Biden.
From left, President Xi Jinping and President Joe Biden. Getty Images

President Joe Biden hopes to walk away from his closely watched summit with Chinese President Xi Jinping on Wednesday having put the US-China relationship on steadier footing after months of tension between the two superpowers.

With conflicts raging in the Middle East and Europe as he prepares to fight for reelection, Biden hopes to prevent another crisis from exploding on his watch. He is not only looking to demonstrate to Americans – but also to Xi directly – why an improved relationship with Beijing is in everyone’s interests.

Ahead of the talks, US officials were careful to manage expectations, saying they did not expect a long list of outcomes or even a joint leaders’ statement, as is customary following summits between leaders.

Instead, the primary objective for the talks appeared to be restoring channels of communication, principally through the military, to avoid the type of miscommunication or miscalculation US officials fear could lead to open conflict.

Biden said ahead of his departure for California that he would define success for the sit-down as getting back on a “normal course” with China. He said that included “corresponding, being able to pick up the phone and talk to one another if there’s a crisis, being able to make sure that our militaries still have contact with one another.”

For the better part of the last year, US officials have been laying the groundwork for this week’s Biden-Xi summit. With the aim of reestablishing diplomatic channels between the two countries, national security adviser Jake Sullivan has met with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi three times, while Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo and US climate envoy John Kerry have all traveled to Beijing.

The overtures have been extended in the other direction too, with China’s senior-most officials —including its foreign minister — traveling to the US to meet with their American counterparts.

US officials said that working-level consultations had been established with Beijing on especially sensitive topics like arms control and maritime issues.

Sources familiar with those efforts say that Washington has seen signs in recent months that the Chinese are beginning to accept the wisdom of both countries working together to strengthen their lines of communication and mitigate misunderstandings.

“Now is precisely the time for high-level diplomacy,” a senior administration official said. “Intense competition requires and demands intense diplomacy to manage tensions and to prevent competition from verging into conflict or confrontation.”

Read more about Biden's meeting with Xi.

1:15 p.m. ET, November 15, 2023

McConnell knocks Biden on China policies

From CNN's Ted Barrett

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell talks to reporters following the weekly Senate Republican policy luncheon at the Capitol on November 7, in Washington, DC.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell talks to reporters following the weekly Senate Republican policy luncheon at the Capitol on November 7, in Washington, DC. Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell was sharply critical of President Joe Biden's efforts to counter China on numerous fronts ahead of the Biden's meeting with Xi Jinping

"The stakes of the competition simply cannot be overstated," McConnell said as he cited Chinese advancements in military capabilities and alliances, pursuit of rare minerals critical to supply chain, and aggressive efforts to steal Western technologies.  

"Strategic competition with China is going to determine the course of the next century of American history. And yet, the Biden administration has too often met this historic moment with weakness and naïveté. Time and time again, it has sacrificed competition on the altar of green climate policy," he said.

"In the administration's quest to turn the American automobile industry electric, it has apparently made peace with sending American tax dollars to the Chinese industries that dominate battery making input. In pursuit of grand climate diplomacy, the administration's envoys have been literally laughed out of Beijing by a state that keeps on increasing its carbon emissions and has not plan to start cutting them literally for years," McConnell said.  

He also complained that China is making large increases in military spending each year while the Biden administration's budget request "haven't even kept up with inflation."  

McConnell said Congress can address those shortfalls when it deals with the National Defense Authorization Act and a national security supplemental spending bill in the coming weeks.  

1:14 p.m. ET, November 15, 2023

Biden is preparing to discuss Israel and Ukraine wars with Xi

From CNN's Kevin Liptak

US President Joe Biden, right, and China's President Xi Jinping shake hands as they meet on the sidelines of the G20 Summit in Nusa Dua on the Indonesian resort island of Bali on November 14, 2022.
US President Joe Biden, right, and China's President Xi Jinping shake hands as they meet on the sidelines of the G20 Summit in Nusa Dua on the Indonesian resort island of Bali on November 14, 2022. Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

When President Joe Biden meets Chinese President Xi Jinping today for a rare, high-stakes summit, two major wars – the Ukraine-Russia conflict, now deep into its second year, and the Israel-Hamas war that has entered its second deadly month – will serve as the backdrop amid extraordinary global tumult.

Members of the American and Chinese delegations plan to discuss both conflicts in their intensive, multi-hour meetings in the San Francisco Bay Area, according to senior administration officials, and Biden and his national security advisers will seek to convince their Chinese counterparts it is in Beijing’s interests to use its leverage with Russia and Iran to keep both wars contained.

The global unrest ratchets up the stakes of Biden’s sit-down with Xi, their first face-to-face meeting in a year.

As Biden confronts two presidency-defining conflicts in Ukraine and Israel, he is eager to improve ties with Beijing and prevent another crisis from exploding on his watch. The US has sought to manage expectations for the talks, pointing to the restoration of military communication and an agreement to curb narcotics trafficking as top objectives.

Biden told reporters Tuesday that his objective in meeting with Xi will be to normalize communication channels between the two powers. Asked how he defined success for Wednesday’s sit-down, Biden said, “To get back on a normal course.”

He said that included “corresponding, being able to pick up the phone and talk to one another if there’s a crisis, being able to make sure that our militaries still have contact with one another.” American officials have been working to restore military communications with China after Beijing severed them last year.

Among US concerns is the risk for miscalculation or miscommunication that leads to conflict, including in the tense waters around Taiwan and the South China Sea.

"As I told you, we’re not trying to decouple from China,” Biden said Tuesday. “What we’re trying to do is change the relationship for the better.”

He cited China’s relative economic weakness and said he was looking to cement a relationship that benefits both countries.

Read more.

1:13 p.m. ET, November 15, 2023

Inside the remarkably intricate planning for Biden’s meeting with Xi

From CNN's MJ Lee and Kevin Liptak

US officials encountered a remarkable – even unprecedented – level of concern from their Beijing counterparts over how Chinese President Xi Jinping would be treated during his brief visit to the United States this week, people familiar with the matter said.

Over months of intricate planning, Chinese officials demonstrated an enormous amount of focus on ensuring every piece of choreography surrounding Xi’s summit with President Joe Biden on Wednesday – down to where Xi would sit and what he might see out of the window at any given moment – would guarantee the Chinese leader was treated with respect, sources familiar with the planning told CNN.

That included the timing and location of the summit, which is occurring amid a larger gathering of Pacific leaders in San Francisco. Instead of meeting in one of the many rooms set aside for bilateral meetings at the cavernous Moscone convention hall, the two men will meet at a separate location outside San Francisco city limits.

Even after confirming that Biden and Xi would meet, administration officials would only describe the location of the summit as the “Bay area,” citing security concerns. The still-to-be-disclosed venue for Wednesday’s summit was kept a secret from even members of the White House press corps traveling with Biden to San Francisco until hours before the meeting. 

White House officials scouted a number of venues, sources said, taking into account security considerations and how much the space could accommodate. But there were more superficial factors at play, too — like the look and feel of the venue, one source said.

Even the flowers, food and drink have been subject to intense discussions between the two sides, which each hope the meeting will result in reduced strain between the US and China.

Read more about what went into the meeting's intricate planning.