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All eyes on US-China summit next week in San Francisco Bay area

US President Joe Biden and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping

US President Joe Biden will meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping next week at a summit of Pacific Rim nations in the San Francisco Bay area, with the US asking China to keep communications lines open and do its best to align their interests in areas of work and trade cooperation.

The Russia-Ukraine war and the Israel-Hamas conflict will also figure in the talks and China’s role to help US defuse tensions.

Making this announcement on Friday, the White House said Biden will meet up with Xi next Wednesday to “discuss issues in the US-China bilateral relationship, the continued importance of maintaining open lines of communication, and a range of regional and global issues,” White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said in a statement.

The leaders are expected to discuss a range of regional and global issues, including Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the Israel-Hamas conflict, the Press Secretary indicated.

The much anticipated Biden-Xi meeting comes amid trade tensions between the two countries almost a year after the two leaders last met in person during the G20 summit in Bali, Indonesia, media report said.

“Building on their last meeting in November 2022 in Bali, Indonesia, the leaders will also discuss how the US and PRC can continue to responsibly manage competition and work together (in areas of trade and manufacture) where our interests align, particularly on transnational challenges that affect the international community,” Jean-Pierre said while referring to China by its official name the People’s Republic of China, PRC).

China and Russia are the biggest suppliers of infrastructure materials to the world, including steel, iron ore, etc and China is a major trading partner with the US. China’s recent alliance to support Russia on the war with Ukraine has caused concerns in the US State Department, diplomatic observers said.

White House and US State Department officials maintained that President Biden had helped to “deepen our alliances” overseas that included India, Australia, Japan, South Korea and the Philippines.

One of the officials said: “Now is precisely the time for high-level diplomacy. Our approach is steady and consistent. We’re not stepping back from our interests and values.”

Yet another senior administration official observed that since the Biden-Xi meeting in Bali in Indonesia last year during the G20 summit, the US has restored diplomatic exchanges with Chinese counterparts, focusing on trips to Beijing by the Secretaries of State, Treasury and Commerce, media reports said.

“The goals here really are about managing the competition, preventing the downside risk of conflict, and ensuring channels of communication are open,” the official was quoted by US News as saying.

The US and China have also “launched a number of working-level consultations with the PRC in carefully chosen areas where more and deeper discussion can benefit both the countries as well serve global interests better in the demand supply chains. The discussions would also cover arms control, maritime issues, and macroeconomic and debt issues,” the official noted.

US-China relations have been on the brink for sometime following the rising deficit in US-China trade mounting to $1 trillion in China’s favour, the Quad led by US suspicious of China’s moves of hegemony in the South China seas and tensions with India on the Himalayan border as also the latest one to exacerbate was the Biden’s ban on export by US companies of semi- conductors in making Artificial Intelligence chips fearing diversion to military applications.

Tensions were also seen between both nations, especially after the shooting down earlier this year of an alleged Chinese spy balloon over the US territory and amid Ukraine’s war with Russia.

When asked if the meeting would be held in the city of San Francisco, officials declined to specify the exact location, citing operational security reasons.

Meanwhile, Republicans on the House Select Committee on China urged Biden to modify US policy towards China and “challenge Beijing” to prove that it wants to improve relations with the US, ahead of his meeting with the Chinese leader Xi Jinping.

Also read: Even before Wang Yi’s visit, US and China were quietly working towards easing tensions