President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping are expected to hold an in-person meeting at this week’s Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit amid tensions between the two countries.
The meeting of the two world leaders comes amid heightened economic and geopolitical competition between the U.S. and China, particularly over advanced technologies and China’s military build-up that has America’s allies in Asia on edge. The APEC leaders summit is being held in San Francisco and runs from Nov. 15-17, while the APEC CEO summit will be held Nov. 14-16.
Xi, the chairman of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), has yet to confirm his attendance but is widely expected to attend. White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre confirmed at a press conference late last month that Biden and Xi will meet during the summit, although it’s unclear when that will occur.
Xi is also expected to be a guest of honor at a dinner with American CEOs and business leaders on Wednesday, Nov. 15.
The meeting between Biden and Xi comes against the backdrop of elevated economic tensions between the world’s two largest economies. China and the U.S. have engaged in a tit-for-tat exchange of trade restrictions on advanced tech, with the Biden administration recently announcing its latest export controls restricting advanced semiconductors used to power artificial intelligence (AI).
The U.S. has also expressed concern about China's use of subsidies to prop up domestic industries, while China has taken issue with U.S. tariffs on certain Chinese imports.
Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen met with Chinese Vice Premier He Lifeng last week and told her counterpart, "The United States has no desire to decouple from China: A full separation of our economies would be economically disastrous for both our countries and for the world."
Yellen added that she would discuss and explain U.S. national security restrictions on exports of advanced tech that may have military uses as well as restrictions on investment in certain Chinese enterprises and industries.
China’s military build-up will also cast a shadow over the Biden-Xi meeting. Chinese leaders have stated they reserve the right to "reunify" Taiwan – a self-governing democracy that has never been governed by the CCP – with mainland China by using military force if necessary. It also has territorial disputes with Japan and the Philippines, two countries with which the U.S. has mutual defense treaties.
Members of Congress have called on Biden to raise human rights issues in his meeting with Xi. The bipartisan chairs of the Congressional-Executive Commission on China, Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., and Rep. Chris Smith, R-N.J., sent a letter to Biden urging him to demand that China stop its transnational repression of CCP critics in the U.S. and provide Xi and CCP leaders with a list of political prisoners.
The group includes Uyghurs, Tibetans, Hong Kongers, Chinese dissidents, religious adherents and other activists who have been imprisoned for their criticism of the CCP. Merkley and Smith noted that CCP officials have refused to accept lists of political prisoners from the U.S. for the last decade and have limited access to information on detainees’ treatment and location.
Biden and Xi last met in Nov. 2022 on the sidelines of the G20 Summit in Bali, Indonesia, where they agreed more direct communication between U.S. and Chinese leadership was desirable.
FOX Business’s Edward Lawrence and Reuters contributed to this report.