In the lead-up to the 30th Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum in San Francisco, the spotlight is on the highly anticipated meeting between United States President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping. This crucial engagement seeks to address and alleviate tensions in a pivotal global rivalry that has recently witnessed escalations.
Set as the centerpiece of the global summit, the Biden-Xi bilateral discussions follow heightened tensions triggered by the shooting down of a Chinese spy balloon over the United States earlier this year. Since their last meeting in November, during the Group of 20 summit in Bali, Indonesia, the leaders have not engaged in any discussions, adding to the gravity of this imminent encounter.
Here are the top 7 key considerations ahead of this pivotal meeting:
- Limited Personal Meetings: Despite their decade-long acquaintance and sporadic discussions since Biden’s inauguration in January 2021, the leaders have met face-to-face only once. Xi’s last visit to the United States dates back to 2017 during Donald Trump’s presidency.
- Agenda on the Table: The White House emphasizes the summit’s objective as ‘enhancing communication to prevent potential conflict between the two nations.’ The anticipated topics include global concerns such as conflicts in the Middle East, Russia’s actions in Ukraine, North Korea’s connections with Russia, Taiwan, human rights, artificial intelligence, and trade relations.
- US Stance and Expected Discussions: Biden is expected to reaffirm the U.S.’s commitment to supporting Indo-Pacific allies, specifically addressing Taiwan amidst Chinese pressure. Security commitments to the Philippines will also be highlighted.
- Expected Deals and Agreements: Concrete outcomes are sought by Washington, including progress in restoring military ties and combatting the trade of fentanyl, a harmful synthetic opioid in the US. An agreement on fentanyl could potentially involve lifting human rights sanctions on China’s police forensic institute.
- Political Expectations and Economic Implications: With Taiwan’s 2024 elections approaching, China seeks assurances against the U.S. fostering pro-independence sentiments. Additionally, China aims to ease tariffs and export controls on advanced semiconductors. Discussions might extend to enhancing commercial flights and potentially easing journalist visa restrictions, mutually benefiting both nations.
- Market Impact: Market observers are poised to keenly monitor these talks, seeking cues on bilateral sentiment. APEC members and global stakeholders anticipate a reduction in U.S.-China tensions, although concerns linger given Taiwan’s upcoming elections and the uncertainty surrounding the 2024 U.S. presidential race.
- Market Expectations: As Biden and Xi engage in discussions, markets await signals amid ongoing geopolitical dynamics, hoping for a positive impact amidst broader uncertainties in the coming political landscape.
This summit holds the promise of not only defusing immediate tensions but also shaping the trajectory of U.S.-China relations on the global stage.