Xi-Biden meet: Both agree to revive military communication, check on fentanyl

Biden said China and US were 'back to direct, open clear direct communication'

AP11_16_2023_000016B President Joe Biden greets China's President President Xi Jinping ahead of the bilateral meeting held in San Francisco | AP

Chinese President Xi Jinping and US President Joe Biden met on Wednesday and agreed to restore military-to-military communications and work to curb fentanyl production. The four-hour-long meeting held at San Fransico, ahead of the APEC Summit, was "constructive and productive," according to Biden.

A significant outcome of the meeting was the decision to revive military communication, which China severed after then-House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited Taiwan in August 2022.

"I believe they were some of the most productive and constructive discussions we've had. We are back to direct, open clear direct communication on a direct basis," Biden said. The President said he and Xi agreed to high-level communications. "He and I agreed that each one of us can pick up the phone call directly and we'll be heard immediately." 

On whether he trusts Xi, Biden said, "Trust but verify, as the old saying goes. That’s where I am." 

On curbing the flow of narcotics into the U.S, Biden added that the agreement from China to reduce precursor chemicals for fentanyl would save lives and said he appreciated Xi’s commitment on the issue. Under the pact, China will target specific chemical companies that make fentanyl precursors, a senior U.S. official told reporters.

The two leaders also agreed to get experts together to discuss the risks of artificial intelligence, reported Reuters.

Earlier, in his opening remarks during the bilateral meeting, Biden said his previous meetings with Xi have "always been candid, straightforward and useful." He said competition between China and the U.S. must not veer into conflict. "I value our conversation because I think it’s paramount that you and I understand each other clearly, leader to leader, with no misconceptions or miscommunication,” Biden said.

Xi, in his open remarks, said that the two countries have the most important bilateral relationship in the world. "For two large countries like China and the United States, turning their back on each other is not an option," Xi said. "It is unrealistic for one side to remodel the other, and conflicts and confrontation have unbearable consequences for both sides."

Besides, the two leaders had an exchange over Taiwan, which saw Biden stressing the need for peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait. "I reiterated what I've said since I have become president, and what every previous president of late has said: That we maintain an agreement that there is One China policy," Biden said during a news conference following the summit, adding "that's not going to change." 

Xi replied China's preference is for peaceful reunification with Taiwan but also mentioned conditions in which force could be used. He also told Biden that the US should "take real actions to honour its commitment of not supporting ‘Taiwan Independence," Chinese state media reported. 

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