Biden meets Xi Jinping in San Francisco for high-stakes talks

Biden meets Xi Jinping in San Francisco: US and Chinese leaders shake hands at Filoli luxury estate for crunch talks on Taiwan, fentanyl and climate change to try and repair spiraling tensions

  • Leaders of two superpowers met for the first time in a year amid rising tensions
  • US-Chinese relations have been seriously strained since the spy balloon saga  
  • READ MORE: Inside the 654-acre California estate hosting the Biden-Xi talks

Joe Biden and Xi Jinping met for the first time in over a year for high-stakes talks on Wednesday to try and bury the hatchet amid dangerously escalating tensions between Washington and Beijing.

Their encounter began with a warm double-clasped handshake, and a declaration by Xi that the world is ‘big enough’ for both countries, despite years of rising rhetoric and provocations.

‘The China-U.S. relationship has never been smooth sailing and always faces problems of one kind or another,’ Xi said through a translator as he met Biden.

‘Yet it has kept moving forward amidst twists and turns. For China and the United States, turning their back on each other is not an option. It is unrealistic for one side to remodel the other, and conflict and confrontation has terrible consequences for both sides. Planet Earth is big enough for the two countries to succeed.’

Joe Biden and Jinping met for the first time in over a year for high-stakes talks on Wednesday to try and bury the hatchet amid dangerously escalating tensions between Washington and Beijing

In his own remarks, Biden called for a ‘candid exchange.’

‘I’ve always found our discussions to be straightforward and frank and always appreciated them,’ Biden told Xi, after spending years telling U.S. audiences he has spent more time with the Chinese autocrat than any other U.S. leader.

Biden said it was ‘paramount that we understand each other truly, leader-to-leader.’

And he underlined the risks if the two countries fail to find a way to get along despite their differences. 

‘We have to ensure that competition does not veer into conflict and we have to manage responsibly that competition,’ Biden told his counterpart. ‘That’s what the United States wants and what we intend to do. I believe that’s also what the world wants from both of us.

‘We have a responsibility to our people and the world to work together when we see it in our interests to do so. The critical global changes we face from climate change, narcotics to artificial intelligence demand us to work together.’

Xi, 70, told the 80-year-old Biden, ‘We shoulder heavy responsibilities for the world and for history.’

Xi, 70, told the 80-year-old Biden, ‘We shoulder heavy responsibilities for the world and for history’ 

Biden reaches out to Xi’s hand at the entrance to the Filoli estate ahead of their first meeting in almost a year 

The leaders of the two superpowers pose for photos. They are meeting to try and repair frosty Washington-Beijing relations 

Biden said it was ‘paramount that we understand each other truly, leader-to-leader’ and said to Xi ‘we’ve known each other a long time’ 

Xi responded that ‘Planet Earth’ is big enough for both nations

The leaders of the two superpowers are using the crucial summit as they try to prevent their nations’ rivalry spilling into conflict.

They came face-to-face on a red carpet at the Filoli country estate on the outskirts of San Francisco, where they were expected to hold at least three hours of talks.

Washington-Beijing relations have been seriously strained since a Chinese spy balloon flew across the U.S. in February and was eventually shot down off the coast of South Carolina.

The leaders of the world’s two largest economies met as concerns were also soaring over issues including Taiwan, Beijing’s actions in the South China Sea sanctions, heightened espionage, trade and human rights. 

Biden and Xi were expected to cover a wide range of topics, including the flow of fentanyl into the U.S., climate change and the accelerating use of A.I.

After their meeting an expanded discussion was being held with their top security aides.

Their encounter was months in the making, after high-level visits from Biden’s cabinet and even a trip to Beijing by California Gov. Gavin Newsom. 

Delegates from both the U.S. and China line the negotiating table inside a room of the estate

Xi and Biden chat on the red carpet

President Biden drives past protesters in his motorcade in downtown San Francisco

The meeting was an example of the kind of personal diplomacy Biden champions.

His counterpart Xi is a leader who holds unique power over a government that is flexing its muscle around the globe.

While Biden must deal with a divided and frequently dysfunctional Congress amid his own weak poll numbers, his top advisors believe Xi has the capacity to deliver, even if only on some of the modest agreements on fentanyl and climate change.

‘I would say that what we’ve seen over the last several years is the collection of power in the person of really one man: President Xi,’ a senior administration official told

‘What that means is that, yes, other forms of diplomacy are important. But frankly when you really have to do serious diplomacy, it has to take place at the very top.

‘So the stakes really just couldn’t be higher. Yes, I think if you want to effect change the system, if you want a kind of clear shot to try and affect certain outcomes, it comes down to a meeting like this.’

Biden raises his hand up Xi’s back as they head into their talks

The meeting was taking place inside a 654-acre estate amassed by a California mining and gas baron.

The grounds of the Filoli estate include five ‘distinct ecosystems,’ trails, a fruit orchard, redwood groves, and natural springs. 

A Georgian revival-style mansion has a total of 54,000 square feet.

The home was built in 1917, and opened to the public in 1975.

It is far removed from the streets of San Francisco where the APEC summit is underway. That was the scene this week of continued street demonstrations by pro and anti-communist protesters, along with people weighing in on Israel’s war on Gaza.

Also lining the streets have been members of the Falun Gong spiritual movement that is banned in China.

Protesters clashed with riot police as thousands of people descended into the streets of San Francisco to ‘shut down’ the APEC summit on Wednesday morning

‘We won’t allow genocide to be normalized,’ an organizer said

The crunch talks occurred after San Francisco’s homeless were cleared from the streets in a massive clean-up operation to avoid Xi and other dignitaries seeing the squalor. 

But there was still chaos around the summit.

As the meeting began hundreds of anti-oil, pro-Palestine protesters clashed with riot police outside the APEC summit.

‘We won’t allow genocide to be normalized,’ an organizer with the No APEC Coalition told the the San Francisco Standard.

The protesters chanted ‘Biden, Biden telling lies’ and ‘shut down APEC.’

President Joe Biden is set to meet Chinese President Xi Jinping  at the Filoli estate, according to Voice of America

 The Georgian revival-style mansion has a total of 54,000 square feet

The home is located in Woodside on the Peninsula near San Francisco

It is just the kind of open political expression that Chinese authorities have repeatedly tried to squelch for years, including during the 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown, even while opening up its economy to become a dominant global force, second only to the U.S.

The White House said on Wednesday that Biden would raise human rights issues with Xi as he always does during such meetings. 

Joe Biden waits for Xi Jinping to arrive

Xi Jinping prepares to address Biden

Officials hope the peaceful setting of the Filoli estate will contribute to a positive outcome for the talks.

‘If they like each other, they are likely to start trusting each other and to communicate better,’ said Jeremi Suri, a professor of public affairs and history at the University of Texas at Austin.

‘A place like this allows them to get away, not just from the media, but from a lot of the other things that encourage conflict.’

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