U.S. President Joe Biden made the case on Tuesday that his forthcoming talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping should be considered a success if the two powers can normalize communication channels including for use in urgent situations.
"To get back on a normal course of corresponding, being able to pick up the phone and talk to one another if there's a crisis, being able to make sure our militaries still have contact with one another," Biden told reporters at the White House, when asked what would be necessary to rate Wednesday's talks successful.
"We're not trying to decouple from China, but what we're trying to do is change the relationship for the better," Biden said shortly before heading to San Francisco, where he will meet Xi in person for the first time in a year and chair the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit through Friday.
In the run-up to the meeting with Xi, to be held on the sidelines of the APEC summit, communications between senior U.S. and Chinese officials have increased.
But high-level military channels between the two countries have been closed since China cut them off following a visit in August last year by then U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi to Taiwan, a self-ruled democratic island Beijing claims as its own.
The United States and China have repeatedly suggested that stabilizing their shaky bilateral relationship will be the biggest goal in bringing Biden and Xi together for only their second face-to-face meeting since the U.S. president took office in 2021.
Still, both sides are preparing to put a range of contentious and sensitive issues on the table, which include Taiwan, China's aggressive actions in the South and East China seas, U.S. semiconductor export controls and artificial intelligence.
Biden is also seeking China's engagement in helping to choke off exports of ingredients for fentanyl, amid a deadly overdose crisis in the United States.
But Biden on Tuesday hinted he will not compromise on national interests and that the United States is in a better position than China, given that the Asian power's economic growth has weakened.
"From my perspective, if in fact the Chinese people, who are in trouble right now economically...if the average citizen in China is able to have a decent-paying job, that benefits them and it benefits all of us," Biden said.
"But I'm not going to continue to sustain support for positions where if we want to invest in China, we have to turn over all our trade secrets," he said.