Amidst the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in San Francisco, President Joe Biden plans to meet Chinese President Xi Jinping in an attempt to reestablish communication between the American and Chinese military commands.
Their meeting marks their first in-person encounter since the G20 summit in Bali, Indonesia, in November 2022. The need for this communication restoration arises from China’s breach of trust when it flew a spy balloon over U.S. military bases in February 2023, prompting Biden to order its destruction.
During a meeting with donors, Biden openly criticized Xi, stating that the balloon incident embarrassed him as the Chinese dictator claimed to be unaware of its activities. This slip of sensitive military intelligence startled other administration officials.
However, the meeting between Biden and Xi is set to take place at the Filoli estate, away from the APEC summit, to enable more extended discussions. The agenda includes a working lunch, a walk on the estate, and a smaller meeting attended by National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan and Secretary of State Antony Blinken.
The primary focus of the meeting would be for Biden to advocate for the restoration of communication channels between the U.S. military and the People’s Liberation Army of China (PLA). China had suspended such communications after former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited Taiwan in August 2022.
Biden’s administration emphasizes the urgency to rebuild these channels to prevent misunderstandings and surprises, without altering the existing policy on Taiwan.
Despite these efforts, China has shown reluctance to restore military communications. Experts suggest that China sees little benefit in resuming such channels, as it believes crisis management mechanisms favor the United States.
However, the Biden administration remains determined to reestablish military-to-military ties, considering them vital for U.S. national security. Additionally, Biden may raise concerns over China’s potential interference in Taiwan’s presidential election, although it is unlikely that Xi will heed these pleas.
In conclusion, Biden’s meeting with Xi aims to address the need for communication restoration between the American and Chinese military commands. While the outcome remains uncertain, the Biden administration continues to prioritize the reestablishment of military-to-military ties to prevent any escalation, miscommunication, or miscalculations.