To the surprise and delight (emphasis on the surprise) of the world, Xi Jinping’s second face-to-face meeting with Joe Biden actually went pretty well.
What happened: This week, Xi Jinping wooed politicians and business leaders during a four-day-long visit to San Francisco, where the Chinese President broke bread with America’s top political and business leaders at a $2,750-a-head welcome banquet.
- Xi received a standing ovation from some of the world’s most important CEOs, including Tesla’s Elon Musk and Apple’s Tim Cook, though he didn’t signal any specific policy shifts to reassure companies that China is still open for business.
- Businesses aren’t looking to get caught in the middle of a geopolitical fight, but many are still keen on selling their EVs and phones in the world’s second-biggest economy.
Things went so well that Xi floated the idea of sending a couple of pandas to California. China’s 100% serious “panda diplomacy” program loans the bears to more than 20 countries as a sign of friendship, but the U.S. had not received new pandas in over two decades.
- Over the past ten years, Xi has gifted pandas to Germany, Denmark, and Finland. Qatar recently became the first Middle Eastern country to get two giant furballs.
Why it matters: Given the recent deterioration of U.S. and China relations (read: the spy balloon incident, trade tariffs, chip sanctions, a military communication cut-off), this meeting was seen as a hugely important step to stabilize diplomatic and economic ties.
- The presidents agreed to restore contact between their armed forces and set up a working group to crack down on fentanyl chemicals pouring in from China.
Yes, but: Both sides were left with several unresolved issues, most notably tensions over Taiwan, which China claims as part of its territory.—SB