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U.S. President Joe Biden and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping reached an agreement at a summit in San Francisco to resume communications between their countries’ militaries in a bid to stabilize relations after several years of increasing concerns about a possible conflict over Taiwan.
At a news conference on Wednesday following his meeting with Xi, Biden said the two countries had reached a number of agreements, including China’s commitment to reopen communication channels between the two militaries, which Beijing followed after the visit of then-U.S. spokeswoman House Speaker Nancy Pelosi had closed Taiwan in August 2022.
China also agreed in principle to crack down on exports to Mexico of chemicals used to make fentanyl, a synthetic opioid that has sparked a deadly drug epidemic in America.
Biden and Xi held talks for around four hours at their second summit since the US president took office in 2021. They are trying to stabilize turbulent US-China relations, which have reached their lowest point since relations between the two countries were established in 1979.
Over the past three years, tensions have escalated over a range of issues. Washington is increasingly concerned about China’s military activities around Taiwan, China’s rapidly growing nuclear arsenal and its treatment of the Uyghurs in Xinjiang.
In response, China has raised concerns about U.S. export controls and other measures that are intended to make it much more difficult for the country to obtain cutting-edge U.S. technology, such as chips for quantum computing and artificial intelligence, which also have military applications.
As the leaders greeted each other at the Filoli estate outside San Francisco, Biden said they were committed to ensuring the competition does not turn into conflict. Xi said that despite some “serious” problems, they should be “fully able to overcome differences.”
“Planet Earth is big enough for the two countries to prosper,” Xi said.
China’s official state news agency Xinhua said the two sides agreed to launch an intergovernmental dialogue on artificial intelligence, form a drug control working group and increase the number of commercial flights between the countries.
Xinhua said Xi told Biden that Washington’s recent executive order restricting investment in China and sanctions had “severely harmed China’s legitimate interests.”
“Suppressing Chinese technology means curbing China’s high-quality development and depriving the Chinese people of their right to development,” Xi said, pointing out that he hoped the US would take measures to provide redress and give Chinese companies a fair deal to provide treatment.
Xi said China has “no plans to surpass or replace the United States, and the United States should not intend to suppress or contain China.”
After their discussions, which included lunch, the leaders strolled the grounds of the property. Asked by reporters nearby how the talks went, Biden replied “good” after giving a thumbs up.
The two leaders’ first face-to-face meeting took place a year ago on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Bali, Indonesia. At that meeting, they also agreed on the need to resume high-level engagement to ensure that coercion “does not result in conflict.”
Their efforts failed three months later when a suspected Chinese spy balloon flew over North America and was shot down by the US military.
In recent months they have renewed cooperation with a number of US Cabinet secretaries, including Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who is visiting Beijing, and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, who is making a return visit to Washington.
However, ahead of the summit, US officials stressed that while there would be further agreements, the aim of the meeting was to ensure that there were high-level communication channels to prevent misunderstandings and ensure that conflicts did not arise.