Joe Biden and Xi Jinping Expected to Strike Landmark Deals

The United States and China are expected to announce landmark deals as President Joe Biden and Chinese leader Xi Jinping meet in San Francisco on Wednesday, according to reports.

The two sides could reach important agreements on artificial intelligence with military applications, as well as on the supply of fentanyl and the resumption of military-to-military dialogue.

Xi arrived in San Francisco on Tuesday to attend the APEC leaders’ summit, and he is slated to meet Biden on the sidelines. The two leaders were not expected to issue a joint statement on shared interests, but they could strike working-level deals on certain key issues.

The U.S. and China are expected to introduce a pledge to ban the use of AI in autonomous weaponry, including nuclear weapons, according to Hong Kong’s South China Morning Post.

Chinese President Xi Jinping arrives at San Francisco International Airport ahead of the APEC summit on November 14, 2023. The U.S. and China are set to sign landmark deals.
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images News/WireImage

The threat posed by AI, which can help detect enemy missiles and autonomously counterattack, has emerged as a contentious field as multiple countries experiment with machine learning to augment their nuclear arsenals.

On November 13, the U.S. and 45 other countries launched the Political Declaration on Responsible Military Use of Artificial Intelligence and Autonomy.

“This groundbreaking initiative contains 10 concrete measures to guide the responsible development and use of military applications of AI and autonomy,” the U.S. State Department said after the declaration was adopted on Monday.

“It is essential to keep a human in the loop in nuclear command and control given some of the problems we’ve seen so far with AI,” Bonnie Glaser, managing director of the Indo-Pacific Program at the German Marshall Fund of the United States think tank, told the Hong Kong newspaper.

China recently joined the U.S., U.K. and other countries for a summit to discuss AI safety at Bletchley Park, north of London, where Beijing signed a joint declaration calling for regulation of AI technologies.

Yet another crucial deal would be an agreement on fentanyl, according to Bloomberg.

Under the agreement, China will target the companies behind the manufacturing and export of fentanyl. In the U.S., fentanyl abuse is linked to most deaths between the ages of 18 and 49. More than 110,000 overdose deaths from synthetic drugs like fentanyl were reported last year, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The Biden administration is likely to reciprocate China’s signing of the deal by lifting restrictions on China’s forensic police institute, the reports said. The institute was sanctioned by the U.S. Commerce Department because of its involvement in alleged human rights abuses in China.

A third agreement that both sides could reach on Wednesday was to resume the high-level military-to-military dialogue. The defense hotline has remained severed since former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited Taipei in August 2022. The Pentagon has made repeated calls urging China to resume the talks to manage tensions in the Indo-Pacific. Beijing has rebuffed the calls.

Chinese officials could push the U.S. to roll back its restrictions on high-end semiconductor chips and other technologies. But there are no signs that the White House would consider reversing the stringent export controls that have slowed China’s technological advancements.

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Aadil Brar