Joe Biden’s ‘Up-Ticket’ Ballot StrategyJoe Biden’s ‘Up-Ticket’ Ballot Strategy

Within the extraordinarily detailed preparations for Joe Biden and Xi’s meeting in 2023

Joe Biden’s ‘Up-Ticket’ Ballot Strategy
Joe Biden’s ‘Up-Ticket’ Ballot Strategy

Speaking with people familiar with the situation, US officials found Beijing counterparts to be remarkably, if not unprecedentedly, concerned about the treatment of Chinese President Xi Jinping during his brief visit to the US this week.

According to people familiar with the planning, Chinese officials spent months meticulously arranging every detail of Xi’s meeting with President Joe Biden on Wednesday, including where he would sit and what he might be able to see out the window at any given time. This attention to detail ensured that the Chinese leader would be treated with dignity.

This included the summit’s schedule and venue, which coincided with a bigger assembly of Pacific leaders in San Francisco. The two men will meet at a historic estate south of San Francisco, rather than in one of the many rooms reserved for bilateral meetings at the massive Moscone convention hall.

Even after it was confirmed that Biden and Xi would meet, administration representatives would only specify the “bay area” as the venue due to security concerns. Even the White House press corps traveling with Biden to San Francisco was unaware of the location of Wednesday’s summit, known as Filoli, until a few hours prior to the event.

According to sources, White House representatives looked at several locations while taking capacity and security into account. However, one source claimed that there were also more surface-level variables at work, such as the venue’s appearance and atmosphere.

One senior US administration official remarked, “As you would imagine, all the logistical arrangements are pretty intense.”

The two sides have had lengthy discussions about everything from flowers to food and drink, all in the hopes that the meeting will lessen tensions between the US and China.

China typically wants everything when it visits the United States. They demand all the fanfare and fanciness. When they attend these kinds of gatherings, they expect to be treated with the utmost respect, according to Victor Cha, senior vice president for Asia at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

“With the relationship as it is now, that is not politically feasible,” he stated. “And so, the fact that APEC is being held in San Francisco rather than at the official White House solves that problem.”

China will be closely monitoring this meeting.

The attention to the atmospherics, according to US diplomats who are familiar with the intricate planning that typically goes into any foreign trip for the Chinese president, highlighted the significance Xi was placing on how his summit with Biden would be viewed at home.

With great attention to detail and symbolism, Chinese officials have made sure that every aspect of Xi’s visit to California reflects the utmost respect, even going so far as to try and obstruct (or at least mask) the communist leader’s protests.

One of the biggest concentrations of Chinese or Chinese-Americans in the country is found in San Francisco and the Bay Area. US census data shows that one-fifth of San Francisco’s population is of Chinese descent.

This makes the anticipation of Xi’s visit more intense. Human rights and democracy organizations announced that they would begin protests this week around the site of the APEC summit; however, it seemed unlikely that there would be protests during the Biden-Xi meeting.

Pro-Chinese protestors have also been out in force, eager to show support for the Chinese leader, and officials claim that China has attempted to prevent Xi from witnessing such protests firsthand. On Tuesday, Biden saw signs along the side of the road that said, “Warm Welcome for Xi,” as he was making his way from the airport to his hotel. There were others waving Chinese and US flags.

Expect few surprises

In an effort to avoid any surprises, officials also discussed the details of the talks for hours with their counterparts.

US officials stated that this week will be Xi’s first visit back to San Francisco since he was a young Communist Party secretary in the Chinese provinces. Xi has not visited the US in over six years. In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, Xi has not traveled abroad very often in the last few years.

His meetings with former US presidents, such as Donald Trump and Barack Obama, also included elaborately choreographed dances. At the Sunnylands compound outside of Palm Springs, he met Obama. They exchanged ties and jackets and went for a walk in the scorching desert sun. He had dinner at Mar-a-Lago with Trump, after which he had “the most beautiful piece of chocolate cake,” as Trump subsequently put it.

Over the past two years, Xi has strengthened his hold on power by elevating party members and prolonging his term indefinitely. However, he also lands in California during a precarious economic period, with China going through a real estate meltdown and a sharp rise in youth unemployment.

Frustration has been expressed both domestically and internationally over Xi’s handling of the Covid crisis, which included obstructing international investigations into the virus’s origins. A number of recent upheavals within his inner circle, such as the sudden removal of Xi’s personal choice for foreign and defense ministers, have also cast doubt on his judgment.

heightened awareness of Xi’s domestic trip

This has made the trip to the United States this week even more scrutinized. Apart from his meeting with Biden, Xi will be the guest of honor at a dinner with leading American executives. He is keen to court US companies in light of the decline in foreign investment in China and to let the US government know how important the private sector still views China.

According to Ryan Hass, director of the John L. Thornton China Center at the Brookings Institution, “optics are always important for Beijing.” “Chinese officials will want to convey to their home audience that Biden treats Xi with respect and decency.” They will be drawn to seeing both leaders interact cordially and make a personal commitment to fostering the partnership.

“To achieve this, images of both leaders engaging personally beyond the traditional greeting in front of a bank of flags in a hotel conference room will be necessary,” Hass continued.

More than ten years have passed since Biden and Xi first met, and Biden frequently recounts the distance they both traveled as vice presidents. When it seemed likely that Xi would be promoted to leader, the Obama administration sent Biden to gauge his mood.

However, despite the seeming warmth of their relationship, there hasn’t been any improvement in US-China relations. Prior to his departure for California, Biden expressed his hope to restore the relationship after months of strain.

When asked at the White House what “getting back on a normal course” meant in terms of the Wednesday sit-down, Biden responded

“Corresponding, being able to pick up the phone and talk to one another if there’s a crisis, being able to make sure that our militaries still have contact with one another,” he stated, was part of that.

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