Chinese President Xi Jinping will meet with US President Joe Biden starting at 10:45am Wednesday Pacific time. The US side is giving a state visit-level reception for Xi.
The previously secret venue for the one-on-one meeting between presidents, on the sidelines of the summit of Asian-Pacific leaders, has as of Wednesday morning been disclosed as Filoli, a sprawling private estate located in Woodside, California – which lies about 25 miles south of San Francisco, seen below.
The lush, quiet and secluded estate will be scene of an expected some 4 hours of talks between Xi and the 80-year old Biden.
As we’ve previewed, topics are likely to range from Biden’s efforts to restore military-to-military communications, Taiwan tensions, managing economic competition, Ukraine, Gaza, and also reportedly Fentanyl at the forefront – to be pressed by the US side.
So far, it’s the optics which have proven most controversial, from the moment senior officials – including Janet Yellen – were gathered at the airport to greet Xi’s huge Air China jet on Tuesday. Biden had this to say going into Wednesday’s crucial meeting, via APF:
China under Xi has ‘real problems’, Biden says on eve of summit.
Red Dawn 2023 pic.twitter.com/I5WrBhR32i
— Carl Zha (@CarlZha) November 15, 2023
Amazingly, here’s a partial list and summary of the “no detail too small” preparations for
Emperor President Xi’s arrival:
A presidential meeting at an undisclosed location. Students lining the streets waving Chinese flags. A $2,000-per-plate dinner with the most powerful business executives in America.
Every aspect of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visit to California this week has been highly choreographed, down to what he sees outside the window during a motorcade ride and what camera angle he’s recorded from, according to people familiar with the planning.
“There is no detail too small,” said Kurt Campbell, the White House coordinator for the Indo-Pacific.
Any meeting between two heads of state involves a degree of pomp and circumstance, but President Joe Biden’s long-awaited sit-down with Xi on Wednesday is the product of a painstaking process to accommodate China’s many requests. The behind-the-scenes effort is a sign of Beijing’s anxiety over the optics that could result from Xi’s first visit to the U.S. in six years.
Overall, China is looking for Xi’s trip to California to be seen as a “grand visit,” officials said.
Xi’s motorcade flew past unusually pristine streets lined with students and supporters waiving Chinese flags, though there are reports of some sporadic protests popping up too:
But here’s the BEFORE…
This is Gavin Newsom’s California when China’s leader isn’t in town pic.twitter.com/oPWY4CMGuU
— Michael Shellenberger (@shellenberger) November 14, 2023
Here’s the AFTER… with the Chinese national anthem ringing out…
This is XI arriving in San Francisco.
Notice, no American flags.
Don’t believe them when they say “China is our greatest threat.”
China already conquered us.pic.twitter.com/Wg4AZKaY8G
— Joey Meugniot (@realjoeymUS) November 15, 2023
The rapid and almost miraculous clean-up of San Francisco streets comes after a series of demands made by Beijing:
They insisted that the meeting be held before a broader gathering of Asia-Pacific leaders in San Francisco this week and at a location entirely separate from the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit site, two current and former U.S. officials said. China’s request was designed to elevate Xi’s stature above that of the other world leaders traveling to California this week, the officials said.
And entire roads and intersections have been closed off for Xi’s extensive security perimeter:
Time: San Francisco 23:06, Beijing time 15:06
Location: Roads around the St. Regis Hotel where President Xi stayed
Thank you to the San Francisco police for your hard work.👍pic.twitter.com/RGXDwkYuNu
— ShanghaiPanda (@thinking_panda) November 15, 2023
Given the planned Biden-Xi meeting is scheduled to run for four hours, it remains to be seen whether the US president will be able to stay alert, awake and coherent for such a lengthy high stakes session.