Before Chinese President Xi Jinping’s arrival in San Francisco for the APEC summit, protesters and pro-democracy activists voiced concerns about China and Xi that are rarely expressed in China or the region.
This week’s summit is expected to bring U.S. President Joe Biden and Xi together for their first face-to-face meeting since they spoke on the sidelines of the G20 summit meeting in Bali, Indonesia, in November 2022.
Xi last visited the United States in April 2017, when then-President Donald Trump served him a “most beautiful piece of chocolate cake,” saying the two had “great chemistry.”
By the time Trump and Xi met at the G20 Summit in Osaka, Japan, in June 2019, a trade war and sparring over human rights underpinned relations between the world’s two largest economies.
This was six months before the coronavirus causing COVID-19 was first found in humans in Wuhan, China — the starting point of a three-year-long pandemic that ruptured life worldwide.
Recent meetings such as the one in October between Biden and China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi at the White House appear to suggest that both nations may want to ease tensions.
Dissidents shouting from the sidelines will mark this week’s meeting between the two leaders in a city where one-fifth of the population has Chinese roots, according to U.S. Census figures. During a press conference on Monday attended by China’s official media, San Francisco Mayor London Breed specifically called out First Amendment rights and peaceful protests as local priorities.
To Representative Mike Gallagher, chairman of the U.S. House of Representatives Special Committee on China, getting cozy with Xi is wrong.
An invitation circulated online showed that tickets to the dinner and reception hosted by the National Committee on U.S.-China Relations and the National Committee on U.S.-China Business cost $2,000 each. For $40,000, companies can buy a table that seats eight people, plus a seat at Xi’s table.
Gallagher said in a speech at an event with Chinese dissidents last Friday, “How does that dinner conversation go? ‘Wow, this filet mignon is a little dry … how’s your extrajudicial internment of over a million Uyghur Muslims going? This Sauvignon blanc is really nice. … Congrats on completely crushing civil society in Hong Kong.’”
He said, “I have personally had some of the top CEOs in America beg me not to ask them about the Uyghur genocide in public, and many others were only willing to meet on the condition of total secrecy out of fear of Beijing’s reprisal.”
Gallaher added, “Xi Jinping has convinced capitalist executives to appease the [Chinese Communist Party] not because it treats them well, but because they fear Beijing’s power.”