Biden announces new agreements with China on fentanyl and resuming military talks
Updated November 15, 2023 at 8:56 PM ET
President Biden announced agreements he made with Chinese leader Xi Jinping on open military communication channels and counternarcotics at a solo press conference Wednesday, after speaking with the Chinese leader for the first time in a year.
The two leaders met for about four hours in California just ahead of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation summit taking place in San Francisco. Their talks come as tensions between the world's two largest economies have been on the rise, and as the White House has been trying to take a strong-on-China approach.
The last time Biden and Xi spoke face-to-face was at the G20 summit in Indonesia in November 2022.
"Our meetings have always been candid and straightforward. We haven't always agreed, but they've been straightforward," Biden said on his meeting today with Xi.
At the press conference, Biden announced that he and Xi reached an understanding about reducing the flow of fentanyl from China to the U.S.
"We're taking action to significantly reduce the flow of precursor chemicals and pill presses from China to the Western hemisphere," Biden said. "It's going to save lives and I appreciate President Xi's commitment on this issue."
Biden also announced the countries would resume military to military contact.
"We're back to direct, open, clear, direct communications on a direct basis," Biden said.
Biden added the two spoke about getting their experts on artificial intelligence together, as well, to discuss risks and safety issues associated with the technology.
Biden's idea of a successful meeting is restoring communication
Biden said Tuesday he wants communication with Xi to go back to a more normal level — especially between the nations' militaries.
In August 2022, Beijing declared it wascutting off dialogue with the U.S. on major issues such as climate and military relations after then Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi's visit to Taiwan.
"To get back on a normal course of corresponding: being able to pick up the phone and talk to one another when there's a crisis, being able to make sure our militaries still have contact with one another," Biden said when a reporter asked what would make his meeting with Xi a success.
"We're not trying to decouple from China, but what we're trying to do is change the relationship for the better," Biden added.
At the start of the meeting, Biden told Xi, "There is no substitute to face-to-face discussions. I've always found our discussions straightforward and frank, and I've always appreciated them."
Despite the lack of communication between Biden and Xi themselves, U.S. administration officials and their Chinese counterparts met multiple times in recent months.
"We have to ensure that competition does not veer into conflict," Biden told Xi.
Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.