The White House confidently dismissed an inquiry from a reporter on Monday regarding President Biden’s potential embarrassment over San Francisco’s recent efforts to undergo a “total makeover” before Chinese President Xi Jinping’s scheduled visit to the city for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit. During the press briefing, National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan initially tried to evade the question by diverting the conversation away from the removal of homeless encampments. However, when pressed further, Sullivan flatly refused to provide a response.
Sullivan emphasized that President Biden takes great pride in the United States’ accomplishments as hosts of the summit, highlighting factors such as the strong economic record, sustained low unemployment rates, and investments in innovation and infrastructure. Notably, he failed to mention the removal of homeless individuals.
The persistent reporter cited a statement from Democratic California Governor Gavin Newsom, who acknowledged that the cleanup efforts were indeed connected to the upcoming APEC summit. The reporter then questioned whether President Biden considered it more important to impress the Chinese leader than to prioritize the wellbeing of the American citizens residing in San Francisco and paying taxes.
Sullivan swiftly dismissed the reporter’s premise, stating, “First, I completely reject the premise of your question.” He also claimed ignorance about Governor Newsom’s context, preventing him from providing further comment on the matter.
Local news outlet KTVU reported noticeable improvements in cleanliness due to the city’s cleanup efforts, which have led to a reduction in homeless encampments along major streets. Emails obtained by the San Francisco Chronicle revealed concerns from city officials, such as Christopher McDaniels, the superintendent of Street Environmental Services, who expressed worry about historical encampments near priority areas. These areas encompass seven intersections in two neighborhoods that have long been regarded as the epicenter of the homeless crisis.
San Francisco Deputy Director of Operations, DiJaida Durden, echoed these concerns and emphasized the need to address the growing encampments. Durden also questioned whether the city had a plan in place. Just days before the APEC summit, the Chronicle reported that the areas Durden highlighted had become free of tents.
The upcoming face-to-face meeting between President Biden and President Xi Jinping is highly anticipated, as it will be their first encounter since their previous meeting in Indonesia in November 2022.