June 22, 2024

(Bloomberg) — China said it’s talking to the US about who will represent the Asian nation at a summit in less than two months, after President Xi Jinping recently skipped a major gathering of world leaders.

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At a press briefing in Beijing on Tuesday, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi responded to a question about whether Xi will attend the event in November, saying: “We are in communications with relevant parties and we will make an announcement in due time.”

Wang added that the Chinese leader “places high importance on multilateral diplomacy” and said his nation is “never absent in important multilateral forums.” Xi recently snubbed a Group of 20 leaders’ meeting in India for the first time since taking power in 2012, sending Premier Li Qiang instead.

The Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in San Fransisco would give Xi and President Joe Biden a window for their first meeting since last November in Bali. Wang met US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan in Malta earlier this month, with the two men discussing a possible meeting between their leaders.

READ MORE: US, Chinese Officials Meet in Malta to Keep Channels Open

Smoothing Ties

Tensions between Washington and Beijing have flared over the past year due to a range of issues including US export controls, China’s territorial claims over Taiwan and an alleged Chinese spy balloon discovered drifting over America.

The Biden administration has dispatched four cabinet-level officials to Beijing since June, as both sides look to stabilize ties. Last week, China and the US said they were establishing working groups to discuss economic and financial issues, in another sign of improving communication lines.

Both sides have reasons to reduce the turbulence. Biden is seeking geopolitical stability as he gears up for an election next year, while China wants to reinvigorate its slowing economy after three years of Covid Zero.

Xi is also dealing with upheaval in his government after ousting former Foreign Minister Qin Gang and launching a corruption probe into his military. Defense Minister Li Shangfu has been out of the public eye since late last month, and US officials have intelligence he’s been removed from his post.

More: Hong Kong’s Leader Says Still Waiting for Invite to US Summit

Hong Kong Chief executive John Lee said at a weekly briefing on Tuesday he hasn’t yet received an invite to the APEC summit. The Washington Post reported in July that Lee, who is under US sanctions for his role in Hong Kong’s crackdown on civil liberties, would be blocked from attending the event.

China’s Foreign Ministry earlier called on the US to ensure “all APEC members, including Hong Kong” are represented at the summit, raising expectations that Lee’s inclusion could impact Xi’s decision on whether to attend.

Wang said at the briefing in Beijing that the US should “create more favorable conditions for a smooth APEC meeting.”

“The United States can be conscious of its responsibility as the host,” he added. “Show openness, fairness, inclusiveness and a sense of responsibility as is expected.”

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