Chinese President Xi Jinping and U.S. President Joe Biden finally met at the "Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Summit" (APEC) held in San Francisco. The two leaders last met at the "G-20 Summit" held in Bali in November of the previous year. During this period, tensions arose between the U.S. and China, leading to a breakdown in direct communication not only between the two leaders but also between the defense ministers of both countries.
The Biden administration is largely continuing the China policy framed by Trump, who emphasized "trade wars." Unlike Trump, the Biden administration is pursuing a "globalist" agenda. China's economy, a crucial component of the global economy, is deeply intertwined with the U.S. economy. Hawks against China advocate for a radical separation of the two economies, while the Biden administration aims to manage the separation as a process. This policy is presented as a way to "de-risk" the U.S. economy.
Slowing down China's economic, political, diplomatic, and military rise is of "existential" importance to the U.S. Therefore, the actions of the Biden administration often contradict its rhetoric, as mentioned several times before. The U.S. imposed sanctions on Chinese Defense Minister Li Shangfu. Beijing stated that if this decision was not suspended, direct communication channels between the defense ministers of the two countries would not be operated. The Biden administration initiated efforts with Beijing to reopen direct communication channels "from President to President" and "from Soldier to Soldier."
Preparing for the 2024 elections, Biden does not want to be seen as a U.S. President who could not meet with the Chinese leader. Analysts emphasize that Biden winning is a better option for Beijing than Trump. In September, Chinese Defense Minister Shangfu disappeared from the public eye. In October, it was announced that Shangfu had been dismissed. It was said that this development might be related to the desire to initiate "Soldier-to-Soldier" communication.
Indeed, Biden and Xi Jinping met in San Francisco on November 15. It was announced that an agreement had been reached on direct communication between the defense ministers of the two countries. This was among the most important topics of the announced agreement. Detailed explanations about the meeting were not provided, and the two leaders did not hold a joint press conference. It is stated that the genocide committed by Israel in Gaza was discussed during the meeting, but how this issue was addressed between the two leaders was not disclosed.
President Biden, in a speech he made last June, referred to Xi Jinping as a "dictator." After his meeting with Xi Jinping, a journalist asked if there was any change in his view. Biden, albeit vaguely and indirectly, again called Xi Jinping a "dictator." During this time, the painful expression on the face of U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken in the room did not go unnoticed. Indeed, Blinken's facial expression seemed to say, "You messed up a sack of chains."
Of course, China hawks were not pleased with the Biden-Xi meeting. Elbridge Colby, one of the staunchest China critics who served as Deputy Secretary of Defense during the Trump era, accused Biden of not taking seriously China's military capabilities developed to deal with the U.S. China hawks strongly reacted to a private dinner organized for Xi Jinping, attended by prominent figures in trade and finance, including Apple CEO Tim Cook, as part of the event.
Among the guests at the dinner for Xi Jinping were executives from FedEx, BlackRock, Salesforce, and Pfizer, in addition to Apple CEO Tim Cook. Tesla CEO Elon Musk attended the cocktail part of the event and then left. Republican Mike Gallagher, chairman of the "China Committee" in the House of Representatives, called on the "U.S.-China Relations National Committee" and the "U.S.-China Business Council" to share the names of more than 300 participants who were willing to pay $40,000 to sit at Xi Jinping's table.
In summary, the most important outcome of the "San Francisco meeting" is the fact that the meeting took place.