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Biden Emphasizes US Importance to Asia-Pacific Business Leaders

President Joe Biden reiterates that the United States remains a ‘Pacific power’ in the region. The United States is a “Pacific power” and will remain “vital” to the future of the Asia-Pacific region, President Joe Biden said at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) CEO summit on Thursday. “We aren’t going anywhere,” President Biden told business leaders at the APEC summit in San Francisco on Nov. 16, a day after his meeting with Chinese Communist Party (CCP) leader Xi Jinping. He said that for decades, Washington’s commitment to the region has been instrumental in fostering transformative growth, ensuring the open flow of commerce, and lifting millions of people out of poverty. The president said that he had also explained to Mr. Xi—during their brief discussion on Nov. 15—why the United States is “so engaged” in the Asia-Pacific region. “It’s because we’re a Pacific nation. And because of us, there’s been peace and security in the region, allowing you to grow. He didn’t disagree,” President Biden stated. “The United States remains vital to the future of the region, and the region is more vital than ever to the United States of America,” he added. More than 60 percent of U.S. exports go to APEC economies, the president said, adding that the Asia-Pacific region is projected to be the largest contributor to global growth in the next three decades. US Seeks ‘Stable Relationship’ With China During the summit, President Biden also made clear that the United States was seeking to derisk and diversify its economic relationship with communist China but that it had no intention of decoupling. “I’m also intent on responsibly managing the competition between the United States and the People’s Republic of China,” he said. “That’s what the world expects of us. And I promise you, that’s what we’re doing.” While President Biden emphasized the need to maintain “a stable relationship” between the world’s two largest economies, he also suggested that Washington may provide better economic policies than Beijing. “We have real differences with Beijing when it comes to maintaining a fair and level economic playing field and protecting your intellectual property. We’re going to continue to address them with smart policies and strong diplomacy,” he said. Ties between China and the United States have reached historic lows due to disputes over Taiwan, the South China Sea, trade, security, technology, and other issues. The Biden administration has sought high-level engagements with the CCP to stabilize tensions, the most recent being President Biden’s discussion with Mr. Xi on the sidelines of the APEC summit on Nov. 15, their second in-person meeting since the G20 summit in Bali last November. The two sides agreed to restore high-level military-to-military communications that China had cut off in August 2022 following then-Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s trip to Taiwan. Aside from getting a Chinese commitment to stop the outflow of fentanyl precursors, President Biden said he also raised issues such as U.S. citizens barred from leaving China, human rights, the regime’s “corrective activities” in the South China Sea, and peace and stability around Taiwan Strait. They also exchanged views on Ukraine and the Gaza conflict. However, President Biden once more referred to Mr. Xi as “a dictator” at a news conference after their meeting. “After today, would you still refer to President Xi as a dictator, the term that you used earlier this year?” a reporter asked the president during a press conference. “Well, look, he is,” President Biden replied. “I mean, he’s a dictator in the sense that he is the guy who runs a country, which is a communist country based on a form of government totally different from ours.” President Biden has previously used the word dictator to describe Mr. Xi. In June, while recalling the spy balloon incident after Secretary of State Antony Blinken concluded his high-profile visit to China, President Biden said the balloon’s takedown had upset the CCP leader because he “didn’t know it was there.” “That’s a great embarrassment for dictators when they didn’t know what happened. That wasn’t supposed to be going where it was. It was blown off course,” he said at a fundraiser event in California. Eva Fu contributed to this report.

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